Sangloo has been so abused and polluted by locals living along its banks in Shopian that the river stands transformed from a source of life to a reason for spreading disease. Javaid Naikoo reports.
Sangloo, a river in Shopian has for long been known for its purity, but not anymore. Illegal encroachments on its immediate surroundings, dumping of litter and construction of toilets and washrooms along its banks has turned Sangaloo into a source of disease for the locals who believed there existence depended on its water.
The waters of Sangaloo, considered as the lifeline for hundreds of villages of Shopian, come glaciers of Peer Panjaal. But as it moves into Shopian, village after village and mohalla after mohalla pump untreated sewage and garbage from housholds into the river.
“Sangaloo is now no man’s land, people are selfish and government is a silent spectator. It has turned out to be a garbage dumping place for people and the river unfortunately is shrinking day by day.” says Fida Mohd, a local resident.
During the months of September and November alone, un- official figures put the death toll caused by jaundice in the area at five, including a 19-year-old girl. Inthe villages of Krawoora, Trapadpora and Chaki-sidiq khan 152 people are reported suffering from diseases like gastroenteritis, jaundice and typhoid as a result of the polluted water of Sangloo.
The Block Medical Officer Shopian G M Bhat acknowledges that Sangaloo is solely responsible for the outbreak of viral hepatitis like diseases in the area and that its water in no more safe for drinking.
“Even after boiling, the water from Sangloo cannot be considered safe for drinking, and there is no surety whether only boiling can kill the virus found in its water,” said Bhat.
Medical experts in the area believe that use of Sangaloo water is to blame for viral and gastro diseases in these areas and prolonged symptoms of jaundice, cholera and typhoid like diseases found in these areas ultimately turn out to be a reason for the death of many patients.
According to Dr Nazir Ahmad, a local doctor in the area, diseases like jaundice, cholera and typhoid are now common in the areas fed by Sangaloo.
Dr Nazir also attributed recent deaths in the area to the use of Sangaloo water and maintained that unless it is properly treated more chances of deaths and outbreak of diseases like cholera, typhoid, gastroenteritis and jaundice cannot be ruled out in future.
“Use of filthy tap water, supplied to us from Sangaloo is solely responsible for this outbreak in the area,” rued Altaf Ahmad, a resident of krawoora.
The Municipal Committee and Irrigation Division Shopian are yet to collect and compile the records of the illegal encroachments and illegally constructed toilets and washrooms on the banks of Sangaloo.
According to Executive officer Municipal committee Shopian, Bashir Ahmad Nanda, there are no records available in the department about the total no of toilets constructed on its banks over the years and neither has the department launched any demolishing drive in these localities.
“The construction of separate drainage systems in these areas is not in the master plan of the District Shopian,”said Nanda.
However, he argues that at the time of issuing a map to any citizen for any sort of construction within municipal limits of Shopian it is made clear that all construction, including toilets, must be within legal premises.
Official records when compared with the actual dimensions on the river on the ground reveal that Sangloo’s width has shrunk to about 18 feet from 24 because of illegal encroachments and dumping of litter on its banks.
According to Assistant Executive engineer of water works division Shopian, Aftab Ahmad, the water supplied to many villages is filtered in Krawoora filtration plant. Contradicting the claims, people of Krawoora allege that the filtration plant is sub standard and is hardly cleaned once in two years.
“The filtration plant of our village can just store the water for a few hours and water supplied to us is the mixture of sewage and filth, which needs a high quality filtration plant,” says Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of Krawoora.