Reckless constructions responsible for climate change, says official report

Srinagar: Reckless constructions are one of the prime factors responsible for climatic changes in Jammu and Kashmir, says a report prepared by the department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing.
The report, State Action Plan on Climate Change, said the climate change may adversely impact the Himalayan ecosystem through increased temperature, altered precipitation patterns and episodes of drought.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, the major causes of increased vulnerabilities to the Himalayan ecology are unplanned construction, changing socio-economic profile, over and unplanned exploitation of natural resource (e.g. Dal Lake or deforestation) and unplanned urban growth,” said the report.
The Valley has witnessed massive unplanned constructions, most of which have been built on agricultural land. At the same time, rivers, lakes and wetlands have been encroached upon.
Many residential colonies in Srinagar have been built on marshes that were filled with earth. Even official buildings have been constructed in flood spill channels.
Srinagar’s Master Plan-2021 has been violated, prompting the government to prepare a new one. Unplanned constructions were also stated as one of the major causes behind the devastation caused by the 2014 flood.
Earlier, a joint study conducted by SK University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing had warned that Srinagar will run out of land for constructions in the next 17-years. Many petitions have also come up in High court against illegal constructions.
The State Action Plan on Climate Change, while recommending a slew of key measures such as baseline study of climate change impact on flora, fauna species and on glacial ecology, warned that weather variability or climate extremes resulting from climate change could have “direct and indirect effects on crops, soils, livestock and pests”.
Interestingly, agriculture and horticulture sectors contribute about 30 percent to state’s GDP with 70 percent of the population engaged with these sectors directly or indirectly.
“The vulnerability of the State agriculture sector to climatic variability would be accentuated at multiple levels including the crops or livestock’s, farm or cropping system and the food system. The implication of climatic variability or extremes over agricultural sector could be far reaching and it could affect food security, livelihoods trade policies, water conservation on issues impacting large portion of population,” the report said.
It has warned the Himalayan glaciers would lose significant ice-mass, which would endanger the river flow during lean period.
“Glacial meltdown is projected to increase flooding, snow avalanche fall from established slopes and diminish water supplies to rivers as glaciers recede. The bio- diversity which resides in the higher altitudes will have lesser and lesser place to occupy and will be at increased risk of extinction,” it said.
Incidentally, the valley has seen a dry weather in winter this year, which is seen as a sign of changing weather pattern.