The importance of water for human societies goes without saying. No human habitation can survive without water. We also know how water is fast becoming part of intense political conflicts. In fact the line is so much worn out that the next world war would be fought over water. And then the importance of water for environment is so crucial that there are global concerns registered over the preservation of water bodies. The importance of water, particularly drinking water, is being appreciated like never before. With this backdrop, a place like Kashmir that is so rich in water resources should consider itself as fortunate. This is purely God’s blessing that we are so rich in this natural resource. But how ungrateful of us that we have squandered this wealth. Before the loss becomes irretrievable we need to shake ourselves up and do something about it. But it is not the society alone that can do it.
Primarily the government should follow a pro-active approach in this regard. And it is good to hear that the Government has constituted an eight-member committee to monitor the process of identification, protection and restoration of water bodies in J&K. If this committee, as is expected, does its job efficiently much of the loss can be retrieved very quickly. In fact the first step of the process should not be any difficult, and should not take much time. The identification is very easy, as the records are already available and the modern means of geo-identification should make is easier than before. Once the data on identification is finalised the committee should recommend a massive public information and sensitization campaign. The local media and the civil society can be partnered with so that people feel a sense of ownership. This is crucial for any long term success of the project. Onwards, some of the water bodies should be taken up as a pilot project and they should be rescued from encroachments and cleaned of all the waste dumped in and around. If that objective is realized, it can be used as a success story and publicized accordingly. That can instill confidence in the concerned departments and also give people a sense of accomplishment. The same model can then be applied to other water bodies. If things are followed professionally, and with a sense of purpose, it can yield spectacular results.