- The fisheries sector linked to Kashmir’s rivers supports over 93,000 people.
- Increasing mechanised riverbed mining in the river Jhelum and its tributaries to extract gravel, boulders, and sand has threatened fish habitats.
- Riverbed mining, solid waste pollution, and human activities pose a risk to fish populations and the people who depend on them.
The aquatic life in the freshwater streams of Kashmir faces threats from riverbed mining and rising pollution. Increasing mechanised riverbed mining in the river Jhelum and its tributaries, to extract gravel, boulders, and sand for construction purposes, has threatened fish habitats.
Previously, mining contracts were restricted to Kashmir’s local residents. But in 2019, after India scrapped Article 370, mining was opened to non-local contractors.
Owais Iqbal Dar, a researcher in aquatic toxicology from Hannan University, said, “Illegal mining of sand or gravel from the riverbeds is also a major cause; it causes the destruction of the habitat where the fish species is feeding or breeding. It destroys breeding as well as feeding grounds of the fishes.”
On the banks of river Lidder in the outskirts of Pahalgam, sewage and construction waste are also altering the freshwater habitats.
The resulting impact falls on the fisheries sector which supports over 93,000 people in the region.
Banner image: Riverbed Mining in Rambi Ara, Kashmir. Photo by Sameer Mushtaq/Mongabay.