Jhelum Worries

Jhelum Worries

The water level of the Jhelum River- essentially Kashmir’s lifeline- is at its lowest in the past two decades. This has affected negatively the water supply in Kashmir and can possibly impact power supply here as well. The reasons offered for the low level are the long, dry spell that has hot Kashmir and the dwindling density and mass of glaciers. This is indeed an alarming development because a whole host of interrelated factors emanate from the low level of the river. The low level , in effect, is the manifestation of deeper malaises and issues that have been gestating in Kashmir over a period of time. In essence, these pertain to environmental degradation and perhaps even are an effect of global warming. Consider Kashmir’s green cover. It has been dwindling on account of both human greed and the apathy of the administration. The conflictual conditions in Kashmir allowed certain unscrupulous and unsavory bunch of people, at times with patronage and connivance , to maraud and decimate the forest cover of Kashmir. The natural concomitant of this degradation would be on the ecological ecosystem of Kashmir which would affect our water bodies too. Overlaying this is the apathy of various administrations in not doing anything significant in terms of the restoration of forest cover in Kashmir. The other reason(s) pertain to Climate Change and its concomitant, global warming. This is a global phenomenon and the only antidote to it is international cooperation in reducing carbon emissions , among other things. Cumulatively, what is happening is environmental degradation at a pace which is leaving administrations unawares as they are caught napping. While the level of the Jhelum might or might not revert to “normal” , at some point in time, but its current condition should be viewed as a warning and a bellwether that should awaken all players and stakeholders. In the final analysis, Jhelum, to repeat, is Kashmir’s lifeline. If it continues to degrade further, the ripple effects will be felt in as varied domains as social, economic and in the domain of political economy. It then becomes incumbent to heed to the warning and devise and institute measures that stem the tide, so to speak. If, however, no cognizance is taken of this alarming trend and development, the time might not be far off, when Kashmir becomes arid and all sorts of related problems arise. As they say, “ a stitch in time saves nine”