Soil into Cement

In last 25 years of conflict what happened in Kashmir will always remain part of our collective history. But what everybody would like to forget is how inch by inch we vandalized our heritage, identity, self reliance and history.

It started during early 90’s when there was no rule of law and gun was the only thing that carried both meaning and power!  Some people, under the grab of gun, took advantage of the situation and grabbed large tracts of land that once were common and belonged to none in particular. They were the same people who maintained their hegemony over ordinary folks by means of taking sides with the powerful. For them, being with the mighty and power always pays rich dividends.

In the backdrop of this bloody armed conflict that saw over one lakh people lose their lives and hundreds of thousands other suffer silently, a new monster was emerging from the darkness. And the first thing that this monster laid its hands on was land. As conflict escalated and consumed whatever came into its way, land grabbers worked with impunity. Interestingly, at the peak of armed militancy, when almost everything came to a virtual halt, one thing that boomed even under the shade of gun was Kashmir’s construction sector.

In order to safeguard their earnings people pumped huge money into creating new infrastructure but without any proper planning.

With government backed regulatory bodies virtually confined to their offices people took advantage of the chaos and constructed whatever they liked, and wherever they wanted. Even in the remotest of villages and towns, which were sans any connectivity or basic facilities, tall building and rows after rows of deserted shopping areas came up out of nowhere.

In good old days, particularly in villages, there used to be vast tracts of land reserved for pastures and other community related functions.

But the emergence of land mafia during turmoil changed the canvas that once used to be dotted with greenery. So much of cement and mortar went into Kashmir’s fertile soil that coming generations will curse their ancestors for being callous with environment.

And the worst was witnessed by water bodies that once crisscrossed carelessly through the entire length and breadth of Kashmir valley.

First casualty was the felling of tress that had held ground around rivers, streams, lakes and brooks for centuries saving locals population from nature’s fury.  Once the ground was cleared of greens the next step, that too went unnoticed, was to obstruct natural flow by constructing eye sore building over these water bodies.

As concrete made its way into our lives we became immune towards natures cries. There is hardly any effort on part of government or local representative bodies to get rid of such infrastructures that rather than boasting economy, adversely impacts it.

First step towards building a strong nation is to safeguards its natural resources in such a way that coming generations won’t feel cheated.


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