Care for Kashmir
Keep Kashmir clean and green
'Kashmir, Paradise on Earth.' This is the slogan I constantly heard on a recent trip to India, to the extent that I couldn't resist an opportunity to visit it. Coming from New Zealand I was expecting nothing more than to be mildly impressed. Instead, I was blown away by the incredible beauty of Kashmir. I was enchanted by the lush forests, powerful rivers and fields of apples, mustard and flowers. I quickly fell in love with Kashmir. And like any tourist I eagerly snapped away, keen to take these sights home with me.
However, as I explored this rare beauty, I went from being enchanted to horrified. The amount of pollution both angered and upset me. I couldn't understand how carelessly people were dumping litter in this paradise. How could people casually chuck crisp and chocolate wrappers in amongst the trees that have stood there for so many years? How could they dump plastic bottles into the still-shimmering water? Kashmir is renowned for its beauty but where is the pride and respect for it? I am not sure whether it's laziness or sheer ignorance on the people's part, but I have never been more disgusted in my life.
On a visit to Achabal and Aru Valley (Pahalgam), I angrily started picking up crisp packets and ice-block sticks that had all been left just a metre away from a rubbish bin. What is the point of a rubbish bin if you will not encourage people to use it? Rubbish bins are really not a difficult concept to grasp - I had a five year old child understand what their use was for within a minute. New Zealand is against pollution and people were so shocked by the litter contaminating my photos that they were blind to the staggering beauty of the landscape beyond it. They were so off-put that Kashmir has gone from being "Paradise on Earth" to "Kashmir, The Earth's Most Beautiful Rubbish Dump." Is that really the image you want to promote to tourists?
I understand a lot of the rubbish dumped was in fairness from tourists, but this does not mean that the locals should stand aside and let this happen. This is your land, and if you do not take pride in it, then who will? Let them trash their own home, not yours! Pollution isn't only an eyesore but can dangerously affect the ecosystems of natural environments. Every wrapper or plastic bottle can eventually cripple or kill both the wildlife and plant life.
Dal lake is already being destroyed by the human waste pumped into it every day - is this the fate that you want for the rest of Kashmir? I am told that if a Chinar tree stands where a road must built that the road is then built around it, and yet you will do nothing to protect the soil in which it grows. There are so many studies to support how harmful pollution can be to the environment - one just needs to educate. There are many ways to prevent pollution by reducing, recycling and reusing. Educate the locals into disposing of their waste in bins, and have them in turn encourage tourists to do the same. Put pressure on the government into building better sewage systems. In other words, do something to help protect this majestic world in which you have all been so fortunate to be born in.
Not many people can claim such a beautiful land as their home, and yet the lack of appreciation for it still disturbs me. Open your eyes to the sights surrounding you - you all advertise it, but do you actually value it? Start taking care of your home so that future generations can enjoy what you are so lucky to have. Come together, show a little pride and respect for your land. Keep Kashmir Green.
(Emma Ryan is from Dunedin, New Zealand. She was recently on a visit to Kashmir)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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