The pages of history and many credible chronicles describe ancient Kashmir as culturally diverse and ecologically sound creation of nature; surrounded by tall mountain ranges that would largely contribute to its ecosystem, and the robust water-cycle.
For centuries the enthralling beauty of every single entity in the valley attracted travellers from the far-off world. Knowledge and wisdom were the hallmarks of Kashmir.
The most captivating aspect was its stunning landscape. Until half a century ago Kashmir was one of the most charming valleys on earth.
Its crystal-clear watercourses, lush green meadows, rich flora, and fauna would irresistibly capture the attention of every soul. Dotted with vast intermountain fill— Karewas and traversing Jhelum the valley the landscape would become more attractive and integrated.
But at present for the last several decades, the valley has gone into the hands of brute materialistic vandals who are out to have every bit of its beauty and natural resources! And all this is going under the nose of supposedly popular management.
Undoubtedly the autocrats till 1947 squeezed the people to its worst benefits, but they were very possessive about the ecosystem and the natural resources.
The half baked and premature democracy after independence created ecological and economic confusion not only in Kashmir but in the whole subcontinent. In the absence of true education and awareness, the area turned into messy materialistic habitation having very little regard for system and natural possessions.
Anyways, past is past, and we cannot return to once pristine glory of Kashmir, but at least right energies can be put in place with best and sincere efforts to retrieve and save whatever is left of our environment.
Nature with its inherent inbuilt restorative capabilities is the best healer of the ecosystem until the humankind keeps its prying eyes off the system. Even the celestial messages in any form forbid fiddling with nature as only the safe and balanced nature guarantees the harmless survival of humanity.
The case study— the vandalization of Karewas in Budgam district will reveal the avaricious brute inside us. For the last several decade’s scores of brick kilns in the district devastated not only the Karewas, but even the topsoil of fertile lands became the fodder of kilns.
The arrival of rail project and construction of multi-lane roads played havoc with water bodies, long stretches of fertile land and the landscape. The rail project planners have never applied their green mind and were more concerned about saving the land compensation costs than preserving the landscape and the ecosystem.
Thus most of the Kashmir rail length was laid through the natural water basins of the valley. To lay the rails above recorded highest flood level (HFL) much of the Karewas in its vicinity became a victim of landfilling mafia.
This double-edged sword of vandalizing natural water retaining structures and landscape [Karewas] became disastrous for the ecosystem and the overall water cycle. Now, this practice has become a usual lucrative business in the district.
Rakhi Arath and Rakh Narkara are the worst hit waterbodies on the radar of land mafia. Earlier also the Parimpora—Panthachowk bypass passing through the Bemina water basin changed the whole land-use concept and strategy in the area.
At present the Budgam district particularly the areas close to Srinagar city are worst hit by the activities of land mafia. Round the clock (particularly during nights) machines remove millions of cubic feet of topsoil and other soil material from the Karewas and fill the water bodies for residential purposes.
God knows whether this unabated movement of man and machine and vandalization of precious landscape goes on in connivance with the establishment or the authorities are in usual deep slumber? Hundreds of earth movers and load carriers violently move on the roads of Budgam with precious soil trampling every dissidence in their way.
The way the materialistic minds and the devastating machines move tirelessly, it seems in the next two decades most of the Kashmir valley will turn into barren fields that will yield nothing but despair and uncertainty.
Disturbingly, even a humble intervention into the activities of these vandals invites the wrath of the land and soil mafia. And while silencing the opposition, they can go to any extent.
Factually speaking such activities cannot go unnoticed unless and until the perpetrators have well-established support within the system. The authorities need to identify these moles and cull them out to save whatever is left of nature and the environs for the best of our posterity.
The sooner the establishment comes out of deep slumber the best it will be for our healthy and prosperous living.