…… and the outcome is just before us!
My heart goes out for victims of Laden—a small hamlet in Badgam district where sixteen innocent people got buried alive under the landslide. Several other cases of caving in of hills, slopes and karewas in many parts of the valley triggered by incessant rains are a matter of great concern. These incidents are an eye-opener for the people of Kashmir in general and inhabitants of Badgam, Baramulla and district Ganderbal in particular where most of the hills and kerawas are located.
Kashmir as a whole has a very different and unique topography dotted with high mountain ranges, rivers and water bodies and has scenic landscape full of hillocks, karewas and slopes. Its precious ground cover of vast forests and green grasses saves it from the vagaries of harsh weather and impact of gushing waters from its catchment areas. This crucial ground cover plays a vital role in water retention and conservation; and covers the precious soil from all external forces. In our childhood our elders would often mention of mountains and hills as pegs or nails that hold the earth firmly. And in religious scriptures too the mention of mountains as pegs is described prominently.
Any deviation with the commandments of the Almighty or tampering with the God’s system—the system of ecology and environment will obviously invite wrath of the Almighty. During the last more than three decades we have not only fiddled with the ecosystem of this once beautiful valley but have created havoc and thus the ,’anger of God’ is visible now. From Qazigund to Baramulla to facilitate the construction of Railway track we have not only filled the much vital flood water holding basins thus changing the course of many water ways but also ruined the whole landscape by excavating earth from hills and the karewas in the vicinity. And while constructing bigger road projects throughout the valley the authorities and the executing agencies being ‘hand in glove’ made much of the valley landscape to face devastation. This multipronged destruction of ecosystem and vandalizing of distinctive scenery that God has created exclusively for this heavenly abode has now brought miseries for us.
Many people blame the September 2014 floods and the present incessant rains for these incidents of landslides, massive erosion of soil and caving in. Some others give vague geological interpretations along with climatic change as major factors for this devastation. But in real sense this whole phenomenon of destruction is nothing but a physical process of earth’s crust getting disturbed by crude interventions of man and machine. Floods and heavy rains only trigger this process of ecological destruction. Take the example of district Badgam, a typical topography surrounded by mountains and dotted by hillocks and karewas allover has been bruised so ruthlessly that no human intervention can restore its original position even for next hundred years. Every area particularly in central Badgam has scores of brick kilns, that not only rob the land of its precious soil cover but burrow deep down to damage the crust of the earth, irreversibly. The land filling mafia while excavating filling material has made deep tunnels in every part of Badgam, ruining the cultivable land and the environment of the area. And this process has been going on unrestricted for long.
The other areas of Kashmir are no less ruined. Man and machine has exploited the ecosystem to the extent that most of the catchment areas are now unable to hold the water and allow the surplus water to flow gently down into the valley basin through streams and rivers like earlier times. In the absence of sufficient and quality soil cover the rain water flows uninterrupted with much greater speed, triggering all sort of soil erosion. This process robs the earth’s crust of its diverse soil cover and rich soil which comes down and settles onto the valley basins, thus creating another problem of water ways changing their course and devastating more of our fertile land by deposition of unwanted sand and gravel.
And for this mess of ecosystem the successive administrations can be held responsible for laxity in implementation of rules and regulations, but most of the times it’s the people of Kashmir who are hell-bent to invite disaster. We should read the writing on the wall and behave like true believers. Sooner we understand, better will it be.