Preserving water bodies
On the occasion of World Water Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain” campaign with the aim of water harvesting. Here in Jammu and Kashmir too, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha presided over the UT-level event seeking active participation of elected representatives and people of J&K in rainwater harvesting and water conservation activities. He also e-inaugurated and laid e-foundations for various Water Supply Schemes, Irrigation Schemes and projects worth Rs 117.49 crores and underscored the significance of Jal Shakti Abhiyan campaign for water conservation and administered a pledge for judicious use of water, saving water-bodies and harvesting rain water.
Water is life and its shortage is undoubtedly going to impact every living being. Despite the fact, humans have been too greedy to respect their water resources. In Kashmir, whether it is Dal Lake, Wular, Anchar, Manasbal or other smaller lakes, the condition of these speak volumes about peoples’ insensitivity towards preservation of water bodies. Several lakes including Anchar, Khoshalsar and Gilsar in the outskirts of Srinagar city and Brari Nambal in the heart of city have vanished completely. These lakes have been filled and constructions have been made there. Same is the story of smaller rivers spread all over and fresh water streams. In rural Kashmir, almost in every area there used to be fresh water streams. These streams have vanished and what remains there now are dirt, polythene, plastic filled drains. In Jammu and Kashmir, the governments, that be, and the people have miserably failed to preserve water bodies. Official insensitivity and peoples’ greed has played havoc with these water bodies. The official insensitivity could be gauged by few examples here. Bemina-Berthana area was flood basin and wetland. And on this wetland the authorities have constructed offices of Srinagar Development Authority, Hajj House, SKIMS, Bemina, Police Public School and likewise several housing colonies too have completely destroyed this wetland area.
In this back drop, the present dispensation’s decision to work towards preservation of water bodies and harvesting of rain water is an important initiative and should be hailed by one and all. Rain water harvesting is not some sort of new concept. In Kashmir, the concept was introduced way back in 1960’s. Even today one can see huge water sheds and reservoirs in several Kupwara villages. The UT administration should pick up the threads from their and launch the initiative in other areas too. If the theme of Jal Shakti Campaign – ‘Catch the Rain – Where it Falls, When it Falls’ is to be made operational, construction of such reservoirs is to be started on war footing basis. Here the administration needs to look into the World Bank funded Integrated Watershed Development Project (IWDP), that was launched in 90’s through the Forest Department. The administration needs to find out that how much funds were shown spent and how much work in this regard was done. It goes without saying that had the scheme been implemented properly, we would not have been discussing harvesting of rain water today.
While the government need to have a time bound and practicable road-map for preservation of water bodies, people too should understand their responsibility. The people have to come forward, recognize their responsibilities to complement government’s efforts, and actively participate in rainwater harvesting and other water conservation activities. As the LG has rightly said, our existence and prosperity is connected to water which is a great gift of nature.