11th December is designated as International Mountain Day. It is celebrated every year since 2003 with a different theme. This year the theme is “Greening the Blue”. J&K Ski and Mountaineering Association (JKSMA), Srinagar first time came forward to celebrate the designated Day in a big way last year. JKSMA is a registered voluntary non-profit organization, operative in the state since 1984. The Association, in addition to sporting events, plays a vital role in the preservation of environment and ecology in the valley. This is in fact the first organization that has studied the state of pollution in River Jhelum, Manasbal and Wular lakes way back in November 1988 when the State Pollution Control Board did not even exist. It also reported the existence of snow leopard in Lidder valley after spotting its foot prints in Sekiwas area by its Ski-Mountaineering expedition in May 1986
With a view to aware masses about importance of Mountains and Forests the Association organized a symbolic awareness trek in Faqeer Gujree area of Dhara (Harwan) in Srinagar last year during the celebration of IMD-2011, in which scores of students and volunteers took part. The Association also organized a Seminar on preservation of Forests and Mountains at Nigeen Club on 11th Dec, 2011. Eminent scholars, environmentalists, authors, explorers, wildlife experts, ornithologists, administrators, tourism players, and students were invited to deliberate in this seminar
Continuing with its efforts the JKSMA has decided to observe the designated day this year as well. With the goal to inculcate awareness and trigger action on issues relating to consistent mountain development the celebration will be held in collaboration with Tourism Department and some other organizations. Like last year the association shall organize a symbolic trek in Mahadev area which is dedicated to a great explorer and environmentalist Late Prof Abdul Hameed, who died while climbing Mount Mahadev this year.
It is in fact an opportunity to create awareness among masses about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnership that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands.
Since the theme of this year’s IMD is “Greening the Blue” it is obligatory for all of us to stress upon plantation of trees at every available place on the blue planet particularly at all such places where the forest cover has depleted. It is now time for all concerned organizations to stop misusing the forests and the pastures. Preserving pastures is equally important. We need to pledge in one voice to make our state greener.
Every color has a certain effect on human emotions. The green color gives the effect of safety, spring and fertility etc. Appreciably many countries have opted, partially or fully, green as a color for their national flags, which depicts that green has some importance attached to mankind.
Here, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation is doing nice job by eradicating the menace of polythene. The motto of the organization is in fact “Green Srinagar” but less importance was given to greenery in the recent past. The SMC has to do lot more in this direction. The Seedling Venders who sell their products on busy streets are to be rehabilitated. A special market for these venders needs to be set up in the city. During spring and autumn thousands of nature lovers, farmers and cultivators are seen buying the green material like seeds, seedlings, plants and bulbs etc from them. It is now time for Gardens and Parks, Social Forestry, Municipal Corporations, Tourism Development Authorities and Environment Department to push the slogan ‘Go J&K Green’ and achieve the United Nations goal of Greening the Blue.
The Srinagar Development Authority also has a role to turn the Zabarvan range into a dense forest. From tourism point of view Zabarvan could become a great tourist attraction provided sufficient attention is given to it. It is a hidden treasure for Srinagar tourism. We have the potential of promoting snow skiing in Mahadev area, trekking, bush walking, paragliding, nature walking and many other adventure and recreation related activities in Mahadev area. There is a need of installing few shelter huts and a Gondola on Mahadev area.
Mountains play a vital role in attracting tourists and adventurers to J&K. Kashmir is known as play-field for mountains sports. The Tourism Department must earmark money for cleaning the trekking routes, removing the fungus that has accumulated on rocks and huge boulders those were used for rock-climbing by the enthusiasts in the past.
We also need to preserve our pastures. Managing natural resources correctly is essential to promote the conservation and the sustainable use of increasingly scarce resources. To respond to the global challenges and threats, holistic, participatory and integrated approaches that address all aspects of sustainability are required. To achieve sustainable mountain development, it is essential that all concerned stakeholders are involved and that awareness is raised about mountain ecosystems, their fragility and prevalent problems, and about ways of addressing them.
The author is Director (Operations) at Adventure Call Tours and Travels. He can be mailed at email@example.com