Jhelum Sinks

Abdul Rehman Ganai

In last two and half decades Kashmiris have almost forgotten the teaching of their ancestors by going on a rampage against the environment. It is not only the degradation of our social fabric that has been passed on to us by our elders but the environment that we live in. It has been damaged beyond repair now.

And because of our indifference towards our surroundings we have destroyed our clean, calm and peaceful atmosphere.

It is because of our callous attitude that Kashmir’s lifeline river Jhelum has lost its glory with its waters resembling an ugly drain.

People residing on the banks of Jhelum, right from Khanabal to Baramullah, are polluting its water by throwing all sorts of garbage and filth into it.

Ironically, residential houses constructed on the banks of Jhelum are without any adequate arrangements of septic tanks and soakage pits, with the result the contents of sink, sewer cesspool and other offensive material is directly thrown into the river thereby polluting its water.

It is this water which hundreds and thousands of people across the valley directly or indirectly use for their drinking and domestic use.

One can easily understand the consequences of consumption of this contaminated water by human beings. Almost 90 per cent of all the diseases in Kashmir are water borne thus putting the entire population at risk.

In order to overcome this menace government should prohibit construction of latrines on the banks of the Jhelum. There should be laws as well as awareness campaigns by government to discourage people from throwing household wastes into the river.

Construction of modern scientific latrines with proper soakage pits and septic tanks should be made obligatory for people living on the river bank.

If possible government should provide some sort of subsidy to the BPL households, so that it does not burden their pockets.

But unless strict laws are not in place and executed properly people will continue to take environment for granted, putting the entire society at risk.

Within Srinagar city and other urban towns, Municipal Committees should not issue house building permission on the banks of Jhelum.

It is sad that people living in cities and towns have kept outlets of their domestic latrines in open drains polluting the very surrounding they live in.

It shows the height of indifference that we have towards the environment. It is ironic that a society that claims to be religious does not follow its doctrines in letter and spirit. The first thing that our religion teaches us is that cleanliness is as important as prayers. In good old days, our ancestors would take special care of their surrounding and water bodies with a purpose that they are duty bound to pass it on to their next generations a neat a clean environment. But the way present generation is on a rampage it seems that there will be nothing left for our kids.

One fails to understand how people cannot understand this simple fact that by polluting the very source of their water they will end up spending huge money on healthcare. It needs more than just tokenism to address this grave issue or else we will be left with just heaps of garbage and human excreta instead of flowing Jhelum. The question we all should ask ourselves is what we are leaving for our kids – a cesspool called Jhelum!

Author is  Secretary of Sky Light Higher Secondary School, Pampore.

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