Kashmir’s water scenario needs attention!
Water and air are two most important elements of life on earth. No living being can survive without water and quality clean water is the ultimate requirement for the existence of human beings. Water has been a source of conflict and strife between nations and countries since long. During last century air and water world over bore the brunt of haphazard modernization and industrialization. Elixir of life—the water became the worst casualty. After water woes all over the world for many decades, the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, to attract world attention towards water crisis decided to declare March 22 as world water day every year. This year the theme was agreed upon to be “Why Waste Water”?
Kashmir valley was blessed with enough quality water resources. And since ages Kashmir was known for its beautiful mountains, meadows, forests and crystal clear water flowing down its catchment areas making a vast network of waterways and water bodies throughout the plains of the valley. But now the water situation is changing for the worst! In Kashmir the theme ‘why waste water’ may not hold as appropriate for the reason that we claim and may have enough water to sustain and to contribute to cultivate and quench the plains. However, the quality of our water has gone down substantially. During last, more than five decades our water sources, water bodies and water quality has suffered a lot at the hands of people and their never-ending materialism. Prior to present network of roads and potable water distribution system water flowing through Kashmir’s labyrinth of waterways into its vast lakes and water bodies was the only source of transportation, irrigation, and drinking water. Until the sixties of last century, Kashmir water structures and quality of water was comparatively undisturbed and pure. Earlier nature was the only force of intervention that would decide the course of water, blessedly without disturbing its feature. The seventies was the decade when Kashmir started changing for the worst. With the arrival of unplanned developmental projects, and a placatory touch of small and medium industrialization concept Kashmir’s water system started heading towards degradation. Man and machine created havoc, disturbed the landscape and ambiance of valley annoying water gods towards doom.
In addition to unplanned development, several modernization trials without proper regulations in traditional sectors disturbed the existing natural balance in the valley. Earlier most of the agriculture and horticulture activities within Kashmir were a blend of organic cultivation with very little or at places and occasions negligible intervention of mechanized and chemical farming activities. It was a sort of integrated cultivation regimen where soil nutrient and soil structure development were sourced through organic manure generated out of animal and sheep husbandry and agricultural implements were all indigenous. This organic cycle of cultivation would least stress and contaminate the water resources and the quality of water. However, with the advent of modern techniques of farming and farm inputs, the agriculture sector apart from boost to farm production played havoc with our bionetwork in the absence of proper regulations. Excessive fertilizer application, improper fertigation techniques and unnecessary chemical plant protection measures became the main reason for water contamination and degradation of water bodies. Without proper quality control and residual effect management procedures and haphazard use of mechanization the modern cultivation system created huge impediments in our healthy water cycle.
So-called transformation on industrial front and modern lifestyle brought with it several non-biodegradable items of ease and comfort that vastly led to a huge addition of pollutants into our soil and water system. These pollutants like plastic and other chemical materials not only choked the water sources but degraded water quality both physically and chemically, at times to irreversible levels. In the absence of proper rural sanitation programme in vast rural areas of Kashmir where more than seventy percent of valley’s population lives and sustains life the modern-day hazardous and not-decomposable waste products have upset almost every part of our environment, water resources, and water quality are the worst hit. Illegal mining of sand and other waterbed material; encroachment of waterways and water bodies have changed the whole hydrological system of Kashmir.
In our case UN’s ‘world water day’ is a cue only. The ecosystem, climate, landscape and geographical location of Kashmir reminds and makes us understand that every day in Kashmir is a ‘water day’. The day we all stop thinking about the hydrological setup of Kashmir in clear and positive terms that will be the doomsday for us. Sooner we understand this writing on the wall, the better it is.