By Fayaz Ganie
Kashmir, unusually, is under a continuous dry spell. There has been very less snowfall – or almost no snowfall in most parts of the region – so far even when many predictions and forecasts were made about snowfall. Hope the conditions change and sufficient precipitation takes place here in the what remains of winter.
Many people seem to enjoy this dry weather, especially the sunny days. Indeed the higher temperatures of the winter days make things pleasant. It enables people to survive this season with comparative ease. But, this ease and this pleasant weather are pregnant with the repercussions which could prove detrimental to human wellbeing and could lead to many other problems if the weather remains the same.
Snowfall is very important for the existence of life here, as it is so everywhere in the globe. In the main it replenishes the depleted water sources on the earth and underground as well. The replenishment is important of fulfill the water requirements of every type for human need. Without it the life on the earth and so in Kashmir could become almost impossible to sustain.
A very important reality about life in Kashmir is that the dependence on water has gone up considerably over the recent years and is increasing with even much greater pace. By the time day breaks to the full, a man has already consumed over 20 liters of water. This precisely is the reason that in many parts of Kashmir there already is being witnessed scarcity of water which is getting acute with every single day passing without any precipitation and people face tremendous problems on this account.
This gets more complicated by the fact that there has been very less rainfall in the months preceding the winter season. In a place where we would witness weeks and even months of continuous rainfall, many months have passed with almost no rainfall. So , the sources of water were already under stress and dry winter has brought this stress to a critical level.
The changed weather phenomena in Kashmir are not about this year, or season, alone but for many past years the weather is behaving in ways which can be called as erratic, if it is compared with the past. The higher level of stormy weather conditions in some months of the year which is followed by the longer dry spells has started becoming a trend. The months where there used to be enough of rainfall pass off without any and in the months where people used to enjoy pleasant weather, stormy conditions are reported where even fatalities are also caused.
These changed weather conditions should have been a matter of great concern for the people and government of this place but nothing of that sort seems to be the story. It appears that people are not bothered about these things and their rulers wait for the forces of the nature to take care of themselves. We have damaged and disturbed the nature so much that the forces of nature are unable to regenerate that much what we have damaged. So, expecting nature to do everything for us is a great folly that we are committing every day and each hour of a day.
We are allowing things to go wrong; we are allowing the degradation of environment, and every component of the environment. Our greed has made us blind. We have converted, or are on the way to convert, forests into deserts. We have given up agriculture and have converted vast swaths of agriculture land into concrete jungles. These concrete jungles are responsible for irreparable damage to the environment. In succinct terms, there is nothing of the nature and the surrounding environment which we have not tinkered with and which we have left in its original state.
For some people and experts the changes in the weather and climatic conditions are part of the larger global phenomena. The reasons for the changed conditions are not confined to Kashmir alone but lie also beyond the geographical confines of this state. The damages and destruction that is caused by the industrialized countries and states of the world are responsible for the changes in the other parts of the world where there is less stress on the environment and its components.
Indeed, such is the story. In the modern so called democratic but actually discriminatory world the weaker nations and states suffer at the hands of the powerful and this is true in respect of environment also. It is the powerful nations who exploit the global environment to their advantage but never take the responsibility in the measures to regenerate the environment. Concurrently they allow not the weaker countries and states to get that which is due to them. These latter states face many challenges which are basically caused by the acts of the powerful.
About Kashmir, she is one of the least industrialized regions of the subcontinent but still the repercussions of changed global environment are witnessed here as they are seen in every other place of the world. The extent of degradation caused by the internal factors, amidst everything, might not have yet crossed the threshold of the regenerative capacities of the environment. Bu, t the fact that there is no separate and closed environment for a place, especially in respect of the atmosphere of the place, makes it obligatory upon the people of Kashmir to tread cautiously which, unfortunately, we are not doing. The level of damage that we are causing by other means, and in other components of the environment like land, is comparable to any other highly polluted and environmentally degraded areas of the world.
The survival of the people of this place especially, and all places in general, makes it imperative upon us to make urgent course correction. We need to look beyond the sunshine of the winter months and see what its repercussions might be. At the same time we must be readying ourselves for the all probable stormy conditions which in most probability might follow. As they say safety saves so the safety mechanisms should be in place right now and always.
As for as faithful are concerned – as we all claim ourselves to be without giving a thought whether we are action like faithful or not – prayers are capable of changing all the adversities into prosperity and in this case also prayers could provide us the respite. But, unfortunately , our only response to the current situation is prayers and that too only a handful of the elderly people do. With prayers, or even before them, there are responsibilities and obligations which we flagrantly violate. We never make introspection and we never have the courage to accept when we commit wrongs.
Therefore, the better option is to pray but simultaneously work to improve the condition. See where we are committing wrongs and take corrective measures. Then only can prayers be accepted and then only can that divine help be forthcoming which would change conditions for us and towards better. If we want to change the conditions and ensure the existence and sustenance of this place and the people of this place, we must take our responsibilities.
Coming to the specific steps that need to be taken to cope up with the prevalent conditions we must learn to conserve water, stop polluting the sources of water, take as much steps as possible to repair the environment around, spread information as far as possible and to as many people as possible aware about the ways of achieving a healthy environment. A healthy environment is a sure guarantee of our existence and perpetual existence otherwise we have been cutting short our existence by the deeds, precisely misdeeds of our own. Time is running fast and hence choice is ours.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]