Environmental Degradation

Environmental Degradation
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Kashmir’s ecology and environment are degrading by the day. Be it our springs, rivers, lakes or the entire ecological system that sustains these, all have been and are victim(s) of apathy, misuse and disrepair. The reasons pertain to and accrue from a range of issues and levels. The foremost, perhaps is our relationship with the environment. We do not, both at collective and individual levels, have a healthy relationship with nature and environment and this where the problem stems from. Consider an example. We seem oblivious to or are not averse to dumping waste and garbage into streams, lakes or even rivers. Kashmir’s forest cover has been depleted on account of misuse or even exploitation of our forests imbued on Kashmir with great abundance. Srinagar city, which once had a lush green cover is now a huge urban sprawl which is both ugly and depleted of this green cover. These are examples which are merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of our insalubrious relationship with nature and the environment. This goes against morality, ethics and even religious injunctions which clearly enjoin us to not only appreciate God’s creation(s) but also take care of these. Public apathy towards the environment and its skewed nature is one facet of the problem or the issue. The other is bad and flawed public policy. It is axiomatic that there is organic as well as inorganic growth- demographic, social, economic and so on- in a given society. Ideally, public policy should endeavor to factor these in and devise policies and programs to absorb this growth in an environmentally friendly way. But, various administrations have been remiss in this regard. Public policy has not kept pace with developments and growth in Kashmir. As a result, what has happened is depredation and degradation of the environment. The question is: can our environment be redeemed? Can it be salvaged? The answer is a clear Yes. But, it depends upon our response(s)- individual and collective – to it. First and foremost, we, the people are the primary stakeholders of and in our environment. We must review our relationship with it and see it as an indelible part of our once pristine landscape. Once we attain conceptual clarity regarding this and develop a sensibility that holds taking care of our environment as a value in itself, the rest will follow. The complement to this refined sensibility must be prudent, pre-emptive public policy that factors in both constants and variables and seeks to redevelop our ecology and environment in consonance with growth and development. It is only when these two approaches are in sync that we can salvage what we have.

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