Sherfun Nisa

Official neglect and apathy of locals take toll on Kulgam’s water bodies

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Kulgam, April 10: The farmers in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district seem to be unmoved by the advisory about imminent water scarcity this farming season issued recently by Kashmir Irrigation & Flood Control Department.

Owing to scanty of rainfall and snowfall during winter, IFC department issued an advisory, last month, for some districts of north and central Kashmir thereby advising the farmers to cultivate crops like maize, beans, instead of planting paddy – a very water-intensive crop – for this farming season.

The advisory triggered a wave of concern among the farmer community in Kashmir valley, but the farmers in Kulgam district are evidently incompliant to take a cue from this important advisory.

Raising hue and cry over water scarcity appears to more convenient for the farmers here than to safeguard the dying water bodies in the district.

“We would always find the womenfolk talking on the river banks and even today they do the same. The only difference now is that earlier they would do it while washing clothes and utensils but now the chatting is done while the women come to throw the trash into the rivers,” says Hameedullah Bhat, chairperson, Village Level Committee, Wokai Kulgam.

One can find more waste material in the rivers and streams than the water itself. The once prosperous streams and rivers have vanished in the Kulgam district. People nowadays stay away from the water bodies because of foul smell that comes from them.

The prime source of drinking water to almost every village of the district is river ‘Vessow’ as its extensions flow through different villages here. The main origin of ‘Vessow’ is ‘Kaunsar Naag’ located in the Pir-Panjal range of the same district.

“We used to drink water directly from rivers and streams. It was considered purest form of water. But now, even to dip a hand in running water has become health hazardous. The dirty water causes infection. The water of rivers and streams has lost its suitability for irrigation purpose as well,” says Gulam Mohammad Bhat, a retired Headmaster from Kulgam.

“It is heart wrenching to see huge water bodies turning into narrow drains. But government is unmoved to do the necessary,” Bhat added.

Nishata Imtiyaz, a housewife from Sungus Kulgam holds locals responsible for gradual depletion of water sources. “We are facing water scarcity because of our own inaction. We want to possess more and more but don’t value what we already have,” says Nishata.

Locals here demand that administration should develop proper drainage system in villages so to prevent water from getting polluted.

“Is it more important to improve drainage system in towns and cities only? Villages also need proper drainage system. It should be noted that the main source of water in Kashmir are rivers and streams that flow through different villages, towns and cities in Kashmir. So, it is imperative to save these water bodies,” says Mahmooda Akhter, a government teacher.

“Village level committees should work voluntarily to clean and maintain water bodies. It is responsibility of every individual to make it sure that no person throws garbage or any sort of waste into these water bodies,” suggests Akhter.

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