Pahalgam eco-system under threat
Govt Using Satellite Imagery To Assess Damage
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Mar 15: The State government has started scientific studies using satellite imagery to assess the damage to the fragile eco-system of famous health resort Pahalgam, in south Kashmir, mainly due to human interference during the past two decades.
“Pahalgam’s eco-system has been degraded due to haphazard development without the mandatory Environment Impact Assessment. Excessive human interference has also contributed to degradation. We will be undertaking scientific studies to assess the damage and recommend safeguards,” Mian Javaid, Regional Director, Directorate of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing told Greater Kashmir.
He said the satellite imageries of Pahalgam would be obtained in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization. “We will be using sophisticated facilities to obtain high resolution images. These will be thoroughly examined by experts and also compared with previous satellite imageries to assess the changes in the resort’s eco-system. This will help in long term planning to preserve the resort,” he said.
Officials said the study would specially focus on the glacier-fed Lidder river meandering through the resort. The river forms the main inflow channel of the Jhelum which is the main source of irrigation and power generation in the Valley. “Incidentally, a few decades ago, Lidder possessed rich variety of flora and faunal specie, including trout. But the unabated inflow of sewage and garbage during the tourism season, has extensively polluted its waters,” experts said.
Officials said the study would also look at the causes of recession of one of the largest glaciers of Kashmir Himalayas, Kolhai, on Pahalgam peaks.
“Government is concerned over recession of Kolhai glacier and pollution of Lidder. Our scientists will thoroughly examine the causes for glaciers meltdown and river’s pollution and suggest scientific measures,” Javid said. Pertinently, the State Pollution Control Board in its reports has been expressing concern over the degradation of Pahalgam particularly due to unscientific dumping of waste in the resort’s forests and Lidder during the pilgrimage. Following sharp criticism from environmentalists, the Amarnath Shrine Board claimed to have initiated eco-friendly measures to prevent pollution in the resort. But experts maintain that the resort has already suffered extensive damage.
Officials said the government was mulling to conduct more such studies in other tourist destinations of the Valley including Gulmarg and Sonamarg.
Pertinently, Pahalgam known for its pristine beauty, has witnessed large scale constructions, heavy flow of tourists surpassing its intake capacity. “This has led to increase in levels of pollution and recession of glaciers on its mountains,” experts said.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 15 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 15 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 16 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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