by Aruba Qayoom

We are witnessing changes in Kashmir, too. The valley is continuously losing the charm as the colours are fading at a tangible rate. Recent studies reveal that the pollution level in Srinagar has touched dangerous levels and if left unaddressed can provoke a vicious cycle of diseases.

Thinning forest cover in Kashmir – Photo: Shams Irfan

Nature is the most valuable and inseparable part of the human race. It includes all our surroundings; the atmosphere, freshwater bodies, oceans, lush green forests, and mesmerizing mountains. Nature is truly our finest friend, as it offers us everything in the purest and pristine form and has never been harmful.

The nature has immense recuperating power and it has been rightly said that “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. Nevertheless, mankind has an instilled affinity towards nature as is evident from the fact that any sort of exploration of nature unleashes the beauty and is always relishing, thus releasing us from stress and anxiety.

Despite all this, the human race is engaged in destroying the precious natural resources in the name of development and technology. For instance, in the name of industrialization, the forest land is being grabbed and is diminishing at an alarming rate: the once freshwater bodies are becoming poisonous due to the accumulation of toxics: and the particulate matter in the air is increasing drastically.

This all has given birth to a series of problems ranging from less severe to life-threatening diseases. The currently prevailing Covid-19 pandemic is also a result of the unfortunate clash between humans and the environment. Deforestation has also created havoc leading to habitat degradation of animals due to which the wild animals are coming close to humans, thus paving the way for pathogens to jump from wildlife to humans. The animal markets which sell wildlife, have been responsible for the emergence of Covid-19.

Another important aspect that is hurting nature is pollution. The pollution spurt across the entire planet has lead to certain acute global problems with global warming being the most noticeable one.

According to experts the recent destruction in Amazon forests, considered as the lungs of the earth, has induced global warming. The anxious climate changes bear testimony to the surge in the pollution level across the globe. To sum up, we can say that the cupidity and irresponsible deeds of mankind are posing a serious threat to all the species on the planet.

A group of deer grazing on a hillock at the Dachigam National Park in Srinagar. Deer is considered to be an endangered animal. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

If the deforestation continues at the current pace, the time is not far when the whole planet looks dull and fragile. The same has been pointed out by one of the greatest scientists of the twenty-first century, Stephen Hawking, who predicted that in the next 1000 years the earth will not remain befitting for survival and the human race has to search for an alternate base at the earliest.

We are witnessing changes in Kashmir, too. The valley is continuously losing the charm as the colours are fading at a tangible rate. Recent studies reveal that the pollution level in Srinagar has touched dangerous levels and if left unaddressed can provoke a vicious cycle of diseases.

According to the studies, the Particulate Matter in the city has touched 348 µ/m^3 that is five times higher than the national permissible limit of60 µ/m^3. The Dal Lake which is regarded as the jewel in the crown of Kashmir has diminished by around 25% in its area from 1859 to 2013 mainly due to the multiplied pressure from unplanned urbanization, high population and nutrient load from intensive agricultural practices and tourism.

Both the flora and fauna of our valley have been under heavy threat for a long time. Kashmiri Stag (Hangul) which is a rare and iconic deer found only in our valley, has undergone a massive decline in population from around 5000 individuals in the 1940’s to a mere 237 individuals in 2019. Nevertheless, the Hangul has been labelled as the species which is extremely vulnerable to extinction.

Several aromatic and medicinal plants including Aconitum deinorrhizum (Methapatees), Aconitum violaceum (Patees), Meconopsislatifolia (Gul-e-Neelam), Saussureamedusa (Snow lotus) are also on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss and overexploitation. The southern and northern parts of the Valley have also witnessed an uneasy surge in pollution and loss of biodiversity.

It is pertinent to mention that the dense forests around the tourist resort of Pahalgam diminished to  191 sq km from 1961 to 2010 with an average annual loss of 3.9 sq km.

The above-cited statistics are a testimony to the fact that our relationship with nature is abusive and imbalanced. Our conscience has been so suppressed by the materialistic lust that we often forget that our sustenance is only due to nature.

As is the famous saying of the saint Sheikh-ul-Aalam (RA): Ann PosheTeliYeli Wan Poshe (Food will last as long as forests last).

Nature has always served the whole of mankind like a mother and has been immensely kind to our Valley. However, much to our dismay, we have been victimising the mother nature.

Nature is now calling us with the Covid-19  and has taught an unforgettable lesson. It is the need of the hour to join hands together and adopt the emulating approaches in solving both Covid-19 and environmental pollution thereby,  preserving the nature both for our sustenance as well as for our future generations.

The preliminary step towards the preservation of nature is to spread massive awareness among common masses regarding the importance of healthy surroundings. The most profound act would be to impart education regarding nature at the kindergarten level so that the love of nature is unfurled at the earliest.

(Aruba is a twelfth class student at Government Model Higher Secondary School Faisal.)


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