A group of fisherwomen is spearheading efforts to rejuvenate Wular Lake, once a lifeline for their communities in Bandipora district. Despite facing numerous challenges, the duo are committed to restore the lake to its former glory.

As per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), over the years, the fresh water Lake has suffered a decline in size and depth due to encroachment and siltation. Dumping of sewage and garbage has further aggravated the situation, causing the lake to lose nearly half of its original area. Ashiyah Begum, a seasoned fisherwoman from Kulhama village, reminisces about the abundance of fish in Wular during her youth. While the catch has diminished in recent times, shr and her fellow fisherwomen are determined to reverse this trend.

Kulhama, located along the lake’s shores, has eighty-three families that have traditionally relied on the lake’s resources for their livelihoods. Despite the challenges, these women are working tirelessly to revitalize the lake. Mugli Begum, a 75-year-old fisherwoman with decades of experience, remembers the golden days when they used to collect boatloads of chestnuts. While the harvest has dwindled over the years, Begum remains hopeful and is actively involved in conservation efforts.

Mukhti Begum, another fisherwoman from Lankreshipora village, has taken up the mantle of conservation. Despite facing reduced yields, she appreciates the lake’s role in financing her sons’ education and is determined to ensure its recovery. Alongside their fishing efforts, they have taken up the cause of cleaning the lake to enhance its beauty. Naza Begum, one of the dedicated fisherwomen, passionately expresses, “We not only want to revive the fish population but also want to make our beloved Wular Lake more beautiful. It’s a labor of love, and every bit of effort counts in preserving our natural heritage.”

Haseena Begum, a dedicated 49-year-old Fisher Woman, passionately states, “Every morning, as we head to the lake for our fishing expedition, we take it upon ourselves to collect any garbage and solid waste along our path using our boats, contributing to the cleanliness of Wular Lake. Fishing isn’t just a profession for us; it’s an intrinsic part of our identity and heritage. We will persevere through any challenges because it’s our profound passion, and we proudly represent the resilient Fisher Women of Kashmir, committed to our enduring presence.”

Wular Lake has historically contributed to 60 percent of fish production in Jammu and Kashmir, supporting the livelihoods of at least 50 villages that rely on its produce, including fish, water chestnuts, and Nelumbo. The Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) is actively involved in restoring the lake as the dredging operations are underway. The administration had sanctioned a Rs 200.00 crore Wular Action Plan for its conservation and management—(KNO).