Dr. Bashir A Dabla
On March 26, 2011, power gadgets were switched off across the world in the evening for one hour to draw attention to the dangerous consequences of climate change. In fact, it deserves more than a ritual observance of an hour’s power strike at the global level. It is because of the devastating effects of disturbance in ecological balance, environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources, and unprecedented level of pollution on earth. The severe decrease in drinking water availability is emerging as one of most potent threat to entire humanity and civilization without any exception.
One of the factors responsible for environmental degradation and ecological imbalance is increasing number of tourists at regional and global levels. The impact of increasing tourism, especially when uncontrolled and unregulated, has led to gradual deterioration of natural environment – wildlife, flora and fauna, rivers, other water bodies, sea beaches and ecological harmony. Moreover, its direct and indirect effect has been felt on water and air besides soil erosion, damage to wildlife and vegetation.An inverse relationship has emerged between increasing tourism and intensifying environmental devastation.
Tourism has thus become a major factor for climate change. The experts have predicted that climatic change will lead to submerging of some areas of Australia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India due to rise in sea level. They have also warned that the next world war may be triggered by factors related to distribution and shortage of water.
All people and all states in the world feel concerned about this future disaster with global implications, which is reflected in the one-hour symbolic demonstration. Many national and international agencies including some from UN have formulated programs and started implementing them.India is also vulnerable to horrible implications of climate change. It has 2000 cubic meter surface water availability per capita per year (against the global standard of 7,000 cu. mt.) which is estimated to further decrease to 1500 cu.mt in a couple of decades. India has 17 percent of world’s population with only 4 percent of water resources. Thus water crisis may emerge as one of the crucial problems in India.
Though the situation is more or less same in J&K, particularly in the Kashmir region, there is neither consciousness nor planned systematic efforts on the part of government, NGOs or civil society. The scientists at Kashmir University and other research institutes have warned that Kashmir may face ecological/ environmental disasters in near future. It is mainly because of climatic changes due to ecological disturbance, environmental deterioration, and mad rush of tourism.
The ever-increasing number of tourists arriving adds to the problem. The religious tourism, particularly annual yatra, has certainly contributed to deforestation, pollution of water bodies, reducing size of glaciers and contamination of environment. As a cumulative result of these developments, scientists have proved, Kashmir is heading towards a disaster. In this context, action is needed at three levels. The government must formulate a comprehensive ecological-environment policy and must stop, systematically, this vandalism.
Second, NGOs must step in to help formulate required programs and their implementation. Three, the civil society at large must take serious note of stopping the environmental-ecological devastation.