The Bold Voice of J&K

Save water bodies

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Anuj K. Verma

Human race has evolved so much, today, that humans are planning for future settlement colonies on Moon and Mars. Much progress has been made almost in every sphere of life. But, unfortunately, what we are forgetting is Humans’ co-existence with Nature and respect for our eco system; Much development has been made but it is not all that sustainable development. Humans over exploited natural resources and caused severe damages to mother-nature. Human greed even did not spare water bodies, which are lifeline for any area, any region. Here we are talking about Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory which was earlier part of the J&K state including Ladakh. As a rough estimate, there are around 1,000 famous water bodies in J&K UT, itself and like in rest part of India, water-bodies are deeply attached with our religious sentiments, one way or the other. This is the land where most of the natural springs are revered as ‘Nag’ like Verrinag, Gurdashnag, Vasuki Nag Kund, Malak Nag, Gaj-Nag, Hemal-Nag, Soner Pokher-Nag, Khosi-Nag, Gratbal-Nag, MalNnag, Hatbal-Nag among others. These springs have been considered holy both by Hindu as well as Muslim communities since centuries together.
Likewise, JK UT has a number of rivers flowing through its land like river Tawi in Jammu, Jehlum in Kashmir, mighty Chenab, river Devak in Udhampur, Basanter, Ravi, Ujh, Pulistar, Kishanganga, Gupt Ganga at Purmandal. Our land is also bestowed with a number of lakes viz., World famous Dal, Wullar, Manasbal, Nageen, Mansar, Surinser, Sanasar, Tarsar, Marsar, Anchar, Krishansar. I might have missed names of many other famous water bodies including water falls, ponds and wet lands.
Let’s have an analysis about condition of few famous water bodies, here, in J&K UT. Regarding river Tawi, the Surya Putri flows through a vast area of Jammu province. Since, I’ve been brought up in Jammu, itself, unfortunately I’ve been witness to continuing deterioration in its condition. Its banks are encroached by legal or illegal constructions during last three four decades. Perhaps people did not have land to construct houses, so thought it feasible to build up their houses on river banks and for one or the other reasons, the enforcement agencies also remained mute spectator. Reportedly, around thirty city sewerage Nullahs with affluent wastes fell into river Tawi, making its water highly polluted with cause for other problems, too. Same is the condition on banks of river Jehlum in Kashmir valley where mashroom growth of commercial as well as residential structures has come up on bunds of Jehlum. Daily wastes including plastic garbage, night soil from these concrete structures as well from houseboats, usually, goes directly into river Jehlum, thus higly polluting its water. Generally, these bunds, alongwith flood channels, were built up & spared to save city population from floods. The authorities need to ponder upon this issue seriously. All such structures on banks of the rivers should be got demolished with rehabilitation of existing dwellers by shifting them to other areas. Government may think about compensating them with cost of construction of structures. Usually, such dwellers have the plea that why the concerned authorities kept silence when they were making constructions on river banks, whether legal or illegal. These structures should be demolished and replaced with dense plantations of native trees like Peepal, Chinar, Mulberry, Jamun, Arjun, Neem etc, which’ll not only stop soil erosion but also shall improve quality of the air. This shall also help in reviving back the receding levels of ground water. Same policy needs to be adopted in case of Dal Lake. Dal Lake is crown of Kashmir like Kashmir is crown of India. The famous Dal Lake which was spread in approximately 26 sq km area is now shrunk upto 10-15 water hole. Increasing numbers of houseboats, encroachments have polluted its waters badly. No need to write again that most of the sewerage, wastes, night soil from houseboats & illegal structures raised over Dal Lake area have done havoc to this world famous lake. Human greed is unending and an afraid if not acted promptly by the government with active participation of people, we might loose this big water hole converting into a small pond or only a marshy land. Hundreds of crores have been spent over its cleaning, but this is high time to tackle the root cause, once for all. Kashmiri people should also come forward to vacate & demolish all illegal structures raised over last three four decades on Dal lake area.
Now, let’s talk about condition of few other water bodies like mighty Wular lake spread in approximately 200 sq Km of area, most of its parts having turned into marshy land due to human apathy. Carcasses of dead animals, throwing of city garbage, plastics & scraps with heavy vegetation had made its condition worst. But, with the efforts of few environment activists, scrap collectors, local nature lovers & local municipal bodies, there is good improvement. Continuous efforts need to be carried on to bring Wular lake back to its lost glory.
(To be continued)

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