Far from the Westminister, British parliament, roaring River Thames and the "water shortage" debate Which I watched, witnessed and cherished during my long journalistic career in UK……………..it was now time to watch JK Assembly with hope and belief to get priority issues resolved that have consumed our life, our dignity and our resources.
The fate has placed me back in the lap of motherland where recently, the Assembly, housed in a beautiful architecture, at the banks of shrunken River Jhelum, was debating "water crisis" facing eighty percent population of the State. Water shortage has also become the critical issue of the International debates that predicts "Water wars" in near future.
Since UK and other European countries have already covered hundred percent water facility area of the Continent where not a single home remains without fresh water supply or other basic amenities, so the governments now provide services to other countries, mostly Africa that has acute water shortage, thus forcing people for mass migration. Not only the European block, but China has also taken a huge initiative regarding water plan that will cover draught prone area with fresh water supply and provide irrigation facilities from African desert to Asia. Developed countries do not make plans overnight or on short term basis, they have a legacy of taking their time but coming up with workable plans that last for centuries with room for modifications, without pulling/digging out pipes to machinery to roads to meters as happens in our part of the world.
And, the case is altogether different in our state. The people have been sold dreams for decades, and then plans had been made overnight and then, rewards offered for proposals that never saw the light of the day. Our decision makers had developed a tendency of weak and short term planning without consultations or engaging of experts, thanks to uncertain and inconsistent attitude of our politicians, the result can be seen in water protests, cries and roadblocks every other day. There has never been a proper policy for regular fresh water for Srinagar, not to talk of other districts since the time we consider we have been liberated.
Official records might be showing ninety percent covered area with fresh water supply, Srinagar with water pipes, villages with hand pumps, fields with irrigation canals and treatment plants to clean water. Put hand on your heart and say, is it true? Do we really get clean water? Do we have towns and villages that are ninety percent hand pump covered? And do we really have water pipes to reach homes in districts? Have we not earmarked budget for water supply distribution or management? Or we have become party in choking the water bodies to resources in every part of the state.
Legislature is a mirror of society where representatives are answerable to every action, past and present…… and future allocation is done on priority basis. Do we really get chance to do it in our legislature where some unruly lawmakers are talking trash, without any regard for this institution or the public who have time and again reposed faith in this institution. What kind of representation are they doing who revel in exploiting, scuffling and abusing only? Voters do not chose representatives to do bad politics or waste time of this institution or waste public money on settling personal scores on the floor of legislature. People send lawmakers to resolve issues facing public and not disappoint voters to disown this institution. The constant turmoil and political maneuvering has left no choice to create alternate forum that could identify, discuss and resolve problems of common people who have went through hell. The distribution of water resources has been done in the past seven decades in such a way that we have not been able to protect our own rivers and streams.
Water is the only natural resource Kashmir has been blessed with. And, we are the unfortunate people not able to plan, earn or enjoy it. Not even to provide water to majority of the population of the state.
We as a community have reached the point of extinction because we have lost much more than land and resources. Our language, civilization, ethos, values and culture has come to point of becoming history, what has remained of this society is separatism, mainstreamism, secularism, wahabism, liberalism or Sadbhavnaism, all of us working within our self-created domains, built at the altar of egos and pride.
When former US President, Bill Clinton during his visit to London was asked what he likes about Britain, he said " the British Parliament that gives me the great hope for better world". He was praising the way the legislature works and resolves issues of common man. The legislature is not meant to become battleground for lawmakers; it has to be the replica of civilization, values and policies. We cannot expect so much magnanimity and flexibility as we observe in British Parliament, still some unruly representatives can learn to behave and focus on crucial issues that have consumed the life of masses here.
Water, the basic necessity of life, has become the big issue in our state, so has electricity. Both issues get mixed up either in noisy scenes or become hostage to politics of seven decades. Can we not expect to resolve these issues with consensus of all?….
According to Water Experts, If water resources of the state are fully exploited, utilized and planned with long term strategy, this state can not only provide water to every home in the state but also to the Subcontinent, already enjoying the waters of big six rivers, divided under Indus water treaty.
Every lawmaker knows that the water reaching to more than ten million people in two countries flows from our state, but when people ask for petty "two dozen more hand pumps, hundred feet pipe or drilling of canal to irrigate few hectares of land" that gets lost in cacophony. This happens at a time when other countries are looking for water traces on other planets.
There is a strong demand for "comprehensive water policy" for the state with a priority budget. If the CDF's allocated to each legislator is to be earmarked for water distribution system for some time, the administration should not hesitate from doing it. And, this needs to be done on priority basis.
Another humble suggestion is to have plan for proper training of legislators about the proceedings in the Assembly…..after all we call them our lawmakers…they shouldn't behave like hooligans…..