Ecological imbalance reaches alarming heights due to degradation

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No letup in the insensitivity of society towards conserving environment

Srinagar: While there are so many issues to mourn in the valley, so many causalities in need of attention, the issue with bigger and dangerous future consequences is that of the of the pollution.

On one hand, unsustainable development has played havoc with the environment and on the other insensitivity, greed and corruption has taken its toll, on the otherwise a region that nature had blessed with beauty and resources in abundance.

Lack of will among the authorities to implement the rules has also been a bigger impediment in maintaining the balance of nature.

Kashmir valley which was known for its comparatively better ecology, is now not much different from other environmentally degraded regions, in the context of the effect of environmental degradation, climate change and warming.

The effect of climate change has been significant and quite vivid here since last few years level has taken its toll on the environment here as well, which experts believe is due to the reckless war of many types against the fragile ecology, that has been witnessed over the last more than three decades of turmoil.

One of the noted environmental scientists, said that the kind of natural disasters that struck the region, over past one or two decades have rung the alarm bells and made it abundantly clear that, if the process of fiddling around with nature does not stop immediately, the impact of disasters that may occur in the future could be many folds and beyond the imagination.

He said, “Due to the insensitivity towards preserving nature, it has been observed that glaciers continue to melt, clouds burst has become normal, landslides, avalanches, and snowstorms do strike from time to time, but still, the process of playing with ecology has not stopped.”

He further said, “Be the floods of 2014, cloud burst in Ladakh region or in Gund area of Sonmarg, there are ample examples, which suggest the ratio of fall out of insensitivity towards the preservation and conservation of ecology has increased many a fold.”

“Since Srinagar city falls under seismic zone 5, the Valley of Kashmir is already facing a tremendous threat of earthquakes, it becomes inevitable to avoid the threat of manmade disasters, which include restraining from the activities, for which a heavy price of loss of life or property may have to be paid,” he added.

Every disaster comes with an experience and every experience with learning, but when one looks around, one could see that nothing has been learned from the experiences of disasters that struck the region in the recent past.

There is no letup in the felling of the trees, inducing soil erosion and climate change, no decline in turning agricultural land into a concrete jungle, resulting in a decrease of crop production and disturbance to flood basins.

Dumping of waste and human excreta into water bodies has polluted their waters to a poisonous level, while the continuous process of silting has incapacitated these water bodies to prevent floods. On the other side waterways throughout the valley have been completely choked by the continuous dumping of waste material into these. Be it Jehlum, Sindh or their tributaries, the conservation of all our waterways has been compromised to a dangerous level.

Instances are not wanting when we see the condition of various streams of Srinagar city. The network, which tills only a half-century ago would supply not only the drinking water to lacs of city dwellers, but would also be a major mode of water transportation, connecting various parts of the city with each other, and would also provide employment to thousands, associated with vegetable farming and transportation of food grains, timber or public transport and tourism.

These streams have either turned into drains or have completely dried up with tons of garbage, human waste and plastic dumped into these.

While the insensitivity of the public is the major reason responsible for such disasters, lack of will of the administration to clear these water bodies and waterways have worked as a catalyst to aggravate the havoc let loose upon these assets of water.

Only a century ago the area of the Wular Lake, the largest sweet water lake in Asia was about 150 Sq. Kms, world-famous Dal Lake 25 Sq. Kms, while Aanchar Lake measured 9 Sq Kms. The degradation process carried over the century has been so enormous that it has shrunk the area of Wular from 150 to 70 kms, Dal Lake from 25 to 12 Sq. Kms and Aanchar from 9 to 4.5 Sq. Km.

What could be a bigger example of the ignorance of the authorities than bringing 70,000 Kanals of Wular lake under willow plantation, which over the period of time, retained silt and turned these water areas into dry patches of land. Thus a natural flood basin, which has saved the valley from floods from centuries, was turned into marshy land.

Tshoont Kohal of Srinagar, which used to be a wonderful tourist attraction, with hundreds of foreign and local tourists taking a Shikara ride through it and watch wonderful heritage structures on its embankments, have completely dried up today, with garbage and heaps of plastic waste visible in it.

On the other side the heritage structures on its either banks have been replaced with multistory shopping complexes and hotels.

Looking towards the impact of environmental degradation, the collective responsibility of saving whatever is left of ecology and safety from the fury of nature in the future, lies on the society and the administration collectively.

If measures towards preservation and conservation of the environment are delayed more to fulfill and if there is no full-stop put to greed and to serve individual or collective vested interests, future generations may be left with nothing of a naturally beautiful region, but a barren land with poisonous the atmosphere, which is void of any resources, that nature had blessed it with. (KDC)

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