Blame game continues between locals, authorities
BARAMULLA, Aug 1: While the growing use of plastic and polythene in Kashmir has worried the environmentalists, a large section of the people find it convenient to throw garbage and waste into rivers, lakes, streams and ponds flowing in their vicinity in absence of a proper solid waste management on ground.
This hazardous trend has polluted the water bodies besides shrinking their size in last a few decades across Jammu and Kashmir. “People who live on the banks of river Jhelum have unfortunately become the immediate victims of pollution, diseases and distress,” Shabir Ahmad, a local at Azad Gunj Baramulla told Kashmir Despatch.
He added: “There was a time when this river would provide us clean and safe water and now these water bodies have become deadly contagious and toxic in nature. If you see the condition of rivers, streams and other water bodies in district Baramulla, you will see these water bodies have become like sewerage carrying drains.”
Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, a resident of Khanpora Baramulla blamed locals for making the banks of the river as garbage dumping sites. “Why don’t we make municipalities accountable? After all, they claim to have been elected for this purpose. Where is the district administration? I know it is the failure of district administration but till we make them accountable, people should also refrain from their uncivilized practices,” Sofi told Kashmir Despatch.
Similarly, in villages of district Baramulla people discharge their flush point drains into the streams in absence of a proper drainage network. “Everyday situation of these water bodies is getting worse due to the negligence of authorities. They don’t have any conservation plans in force to protect these water bodies,” said Fayaz Ahmad Gojri of Kantabagh, while talking to Kashmir Despatch.
He said that the administration has failed to stop the illegal encroachments over flood lands across Baramulla district. “There is not only encroachment on both sides of the River Jhelum but this river has virtually been turned into a garbage dumping site. You can witness it on both sides of this river in Baramulla,” said Mohammad Aqib, a resident of the Baramulla fish market.
The important streams of Baramulla district include Ningali Nala, Ael Pathar, Mandri Nala and Ferozepora Nallah which are in danger of extinction if the authorities do not wake up and act on ground. Locals at these places have not only turned them into garbage sites pouring their waste into them but seem to be unanswerable to any department which is mandated with the protection of these water bodies.
These canals not only irrigate the fields of farmers but are a source of clean safe drinking water. “We are now afraid to touch these waters as you can find dead animals floating in these streams and rivulets,” said Mohammad Ashraf Ganaie, who lives nearby Ningli Nallah in Baramulla.
Talking to Kashmir Despatch, Er. Javid Ahmad Sofi, Executive Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control department said: “We have been initiating awareness programs in collaboration with local Panchayats. We initiate cleanliness drives occasionally but after some time the situation becomes the same. It is because the people use a huge quantity of plastics and they throw it into these streams. We have found dead animals in these water bodies. We look forward to adopting measures that will not only protect these water bodies but strict action is taken against the offenders.”
“Every month we have set some days separately under the aegis of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan & Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav-like programs where we make people aware about the single-use plastic and polythene bags. Along with municipal council employees we clean and run a campaign for the cleanliness drive of Jhelum banks. But people do not have civic sense, even though we have given them the dust bins still many shopkeepers throw their waste outside and throw it into the river Jhelum,” said Municipal Councillor Aabid Salam while talking to Kashmir Despatch.
He added: “Now, how much can we do? The municipal council has only 90 employees who work day and night to make the city neat and clean. At times we collect garbage and waste from those places which do not come under our jurisdiction but still we do it for our environment. People have to understand that there is something called cleanliness which is considered half of the faith in Islam.”