Plight of water bodies

The most badly effected waterbodies are the ones existing in rural areas
Polluted Apple Lake or Tscoont Kol in Kashmir [The famous Dal Lake's back channel that meets river Jhelum under Gaw Kadal bridge in Srinagar's Lalchowk area.
Polluted Apple Lake or Tscoont Kol in Kashmir [The famous Dal Lake's back channel that meets river Jhelum under Gaw Kadal bridge in Srinagar's Lalchowk area. File: Haseeb Ibn Hameed for Greater Kashmir

Kashmir is bestowed with lofty mountains covered with snow, serene waters, streams, lakes, meadows and what not. Over the years, due to unabated urbanisation, people as well as the government agencies have destroyed the beauty that Nature had bestowed us with.

The people have shifted to hills, on the periphery of water bodies and many other places without taking care of the fragile environment of the valley. The government agencies have allowed people to construct houses without any planning. The water bodies of Kashmir have suffered immensely at the cost of these constructions.

Although various plans have been formulated and executed for conservation of water bodies, but due to lack of coordination of various agencies of the government, the result is negligible and the water bodies continue to suffer at the cruel hands of humans.

The VYETH – lifeline of Kashmir, once a pristine water resource, has turned into a sewerage line. As per the news item carried by GK some years ago, around 4.6 lac toilets/latrines would directly flow into the river. There are hundreds of pumping stations that have been constructed by various government agencies on the periphery of this river which collect sewage of the nearby areas but unfortunately pumps it into River Jehlum without any treatment.

These Pumping Stations, though, were supposed to collect storm water/rain water but people have connected their sewerage system with the drainage pipeline which means the Jehlum carries sewage more than the water. Similar is the case with other water bodies like Tsunt Khul connecting Dal Lake with Jehlum, Gilsar, Khushalsar and other water bodies of Kashmir.

The most badly effected waterbodies are the ones that were existing in rural areas. During my childhood days, I used to spend my winter vacations in South Kashmir where my aunt lived.

I have seen how beautiful streams of South Kashmir have vanished due to human greed and how people connect their shit lines with these water bodies that resulted in extinction of these beautiful streams.

The houses now have come in the areas where there used to be water bodies and some existing streams are used for sewerage and drainage purposes. Similar is the case with the water bodies of Srinagar city. We have filled up the natural water coarse to pave way for urbanisation. Big colonies have come up in the areas which used to save the Srinagarities during excessive rains/floods.

The existing water bodies are under severe threat due to unabated encroachments and point source pollution. We have lost the glory of Gilsar, Khushalsar, Anchar, Brari Numbal and even River Jehlum. If the situation continues like this, time is not far away when these will become history.

There is immense threat to the existence of Dal and Nigeen lakes which are very important. Encroachments along the periphery of the lake is immense. We have lost a major portion of the lake from western side of the lake because of encroachments.

Irony is the people who are directly dependent on the lake have left no stone unturned in filling up the water body along its western side. Hundreds of shops/shanties have come up in the area and the people responsible for the mess are none other than the dwellers of this portion of the lake.

The lack of coordination among various government agencies has aggravated the situation further. On the one hand one agency is working for the conservation and management of these twin lakes and have taken various measures for the purpose. On the other hand the other agencies of the same government executes works which are disastrous for the lake’s existence.

The people used to visit the interiors of the lake in Shikaras or Khuchoos but now all the interior areas of the lake have been connected with pacca roads. On the one hand, one agency has constructed STPs along the periphery of the lake and on the other hand some other agencies lay drainage pipes and allow it to flow untreated into the lake. The STPs are malfunctioning as the people living around their catchment have connected not only their sewage but the drains as well with the sewer line.

People don’t know perhaps the difference between sewerage network and drainage network. The toilets and other wastes are connected with the drainage network which otherwise would carry only storm/rain water. With the result the whole system has failed and we are in such a situation where the chances of survival of these beautiful lakes are depleting.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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