Iqbal Ahmad

Time for picnic- Let’s pollute something!

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It is the season when people go for excursions and picnics and always prefer spots located adjacent to some flowing kuls and Nallah (streams and rivulets).   The cool, clean and dancing waters of the village streams are breathtaking and particularly so when the temperatures are souring up in the valley.  People, especially those living in city and towns feel relaxed from the scourging heat and spent some time on the banks of these gushing Nallahs and Kuls.

Perhaps very few people know that most of the streams and Kuls dancing through our villages were basically the water channels constructed by the ancient rulers to facilitate the irrigation of village lands.

The waters of major springs and melting glaciers and streams and also the major Nallahs including Lidder, Vishu, Rimbara, Romushi, Sind etc were the main source for village agricultural lands and it was from these Nallahs that the different rulers of Kashmir constructed water channels, known as Kuls. The purpose of digging of canals was to provide irrigation facilities to the lands so to make cultivation possible.

History records show that the tradition of construction of canals was started by one ‘Suyya’ who is recorded to have served in the Darbar (court) of Avantivarman 855-883 AD. He is said to have channeled the water for irrigation purposes and each village was allotted as much water as was necessary for its crops. The man is said to have many villages reclaimed from marshy tracts by having circular embankments raised all around them to keep out waters, so that they looked like round bowls.

One of such-canal in south Kashmir which has now turned into a Kul is said to have originally been constructed by Suyya.  This canal  was diverted from nallah Vishu near village Nihama to irrigate the lands and is known by the name of Sonman. Sonman not only supplied waters to Paragan Ardwai but in proceeding period several canals were also diverted from it. One of the major canals of Zanapura was carved from the nallah in 1940.

The most famous ancient ruler who prompted people of Kashmir for irrigation work culture is believed to be none other than Zain-ul- Abidine (Badshah).  Jonraja’s and Sarivara’s chronicles have given a detailed list of canals constructed by this Sultan. The famous canals of his periods include Utpalapur, Nandashaila, Bijbehara Advin, Amburher, Manasbal, Zinagir and Shah Kul of Mattan.

It was through these canals that majority of lands were irrigated.

But with the passage of time the ancient canals have turned into Nallahs and from these Nallahs village Kuls and streams emerged as dancing through village lands. Their waters served village lands. These waters were so clean and fresh that people used it for drinking as well. However, since several years the waters of village Khuls and even Nallahs have become highly polluted and a number of kuls are dying fast.

There are many reasons that can be cited for this devastating trend that has robbed us from such rich and glorious heritage. The poor maintenance, increased human pressure, human vandalism, lack of civic sense and indifference from the authorities can be cited as few basic reasons for the neglect. Besides, there are heaps of heavy plastic disposable wastes gathered all over the nallah banks which have polluted its waters and choked its spread.

The people of the villages who used to preserve these streams and nallah’s in the olden times have also turned indifferent since they now have the tap water reaching their ketches. However, what they don’t realize is that the fresh water streams not only provide an alternative source of water but also add to the beauty of the villages.    With the result at several places the dancing Khuls have gone mute and dried up to the extent that now there serves as the village drains!

It is not only the responsibility of the government, but the people living on the banks of these water sources too have to take care of the water bodies. The people visiting these spots for picnic purpose must refrain from polluting the waters and understand that no matter Kashmir is bestowed with such natural beauty and such abundance of natural resources, it in no way means that we don’t respect what we have!

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