Not long ago many open but forsaken places could be seen in every locality and village of Kashmir. The places according to the local beliefs were inhabited by ghosts, and ghostly creatures. Nobody would dare to go near those places and, in case a person occasionally and unknowingly would go near, the person was thought to have been haunted by ghosts. There was no option but to hold many rituals, and offer sacrifices, to exorcise the person from these apparitions. Whether the ghosts are real or not that is not the concern here ,but the point is about the existence of the undisturbed spaces around all the localities and village of Kashmir, so much undisturbed that ghosts according to the local beliefs were residing there.
In a short span of history most of these forsaken places have disappeared. The places and spaces have gone through a complete transformation. The places instead of being forsaken and inhabited by ghosts have changed into modern housing colonies or commercial areas. The condition of all the other places and farm lands could be well imagined. When the modern man has not left the forsaken places without encroachment how would have it been expected that he will leave the easily available and accessible lands untouched and unchanged. I fact, it is only after transforming the productive and cultivatable lands into concrete jungles the encroachment of previously forsaken places has taken place.
This is part of a worldwide phenomenon where the face of the earth is being subject to a complete transformation. In this transformation, hills are turned into planes and planes into hills, deserts into urban centers and urban centers into more advanced and metropolitan cities. Where there existed rivers in the past, there we find highways and superhighway. The lands that used to act as high agricultural production areas have turned into high consumption centers of food resources thereby putting an extra burden on the agricultural lands and farms.
Transformation is always welcome as long as it aids in honorable existence and sustenance of the human species and other species on which human survival is dependent. But, when this transformation crosses the threshold limit it becomes a defacement and degradation of the mother earth. Modern man is engaged in this defacement of the mother earth to satisfy not only his needs but his greed. In the process no lands are left out, forsaken and forbidden lands including.
This is the height of human greed where nothing else is thought about than its satisfaction. If, in the process, the existence and sustenance of the coming generations is made vulnerable, and susceptible to failure, that is not the concern. However, if all the food security is turned into food insecurity, this is not the worry. If in the process, the environment and the nature are degraded beyond repair that is not any threat. If in the process all the natural resources get depleted and there is no recharge of these resources that is not the problem. And, if in the process, manmade disasters overtake the natural ones in their destructive capabilities that is not any issue.
Going by this trend, it seems, man is on a mission mode to change every bit and inch of the earth into concrete, whether it is the forsaken places of the past or fertile lands and farms. The highly fertile land they have changed into barren and sterile buildings and roads. The life giving areas have been changed into life threatening factories and commercial areas; here life is consumed by many means and mechanisms. It is consumed of those people who stretch beyond their capabilities to erect structures and once the structures are completed the men perish and the structures are taken over by their heirs or other people who were not in the basic scheme of building these structures. It is also consumed by the repercussions of the wastes that are released from these factories and commercial areas.
The lands and farms in their original state would replenish and regenerate the environment around but in their changed state they consume the resources of the other fertile areas of the earth. The areas under cultivation of crops are receding fast and they are converted into shopping complexes and malls. These farmlands were signs of security but their changed form is an indication of insecurity and of the precarious conditions of life that may follow.
Nature has placed mankind at the apex of all the creations of the world. The role of the human species is not only to ensure its own existence and sustenance but that of all other species including the ones which seem harmful to humans. But, instead of protecting all the species, man has caused the extinction of the species which are directly beneficial to him. Many more such species are at the verge of extinction and if no measures are taken others may also enter into the list. Defacement and disturbance of their ecosystems is the direct cause of this state of affairs in respect of these species.
Even the places that were thought to have been inhabited by ghosts served many purposes. These were the areas where many species of human importance would make their nests and resting places and man by not going there left their habitats intact and undisturbed and so these places would aid human race indirectly if not directly. If we call the existence of ghosts at these places as myths or illusions and delusions of men of the past times but there is no denying the fact that these myths and illusions were of benefit to humans in preserving many valuable species and habitats.
We may say that ghosts never existed in these places, or they existed there. It is reiterated here that this is not the point of discussion here. The point is, and the truth is, that we have caused the extinction of the rare species of animals and plants by disturbing those areas. The fear of presence of ghosts in these areas would also help in keeping the adjacent water bodies pollution free and fit for human consumption but our greed wins here again. Those areas have been turned into dumping grounds of solid and liquid wastes.
In short, we can say that nature, originally, is perfectly placed; it is in perfect balance, what is lost by one way is replaced by other means. Every species and bit and piece of the earth is important for the human survival. There are alternatives available no doubt but the actual and original method is paramount, if it is disrupted it puts extra pressure on the reserves and alternatives. The extra pressure could be withstood for some time but beyond that there could be a crisis and the defacement of the mother earth has already put the modern man in a state of crisis. By encroaching the forsaken places and by converting productive lands into unproductive ones, man has left the environment in such a condition which could make the earth hostile for human survival.
To come out of the crisis, it becomes imperative upon humans to not deface the earth anymore and to try to correct already committed defacement. Ghosts should not be invited to the previously forsaken spaces; instead the spaces could be made fit for the survival of those species. In case we keep on causing more and more damage to the earth and the surrounding environment the end of the human species is not too far. Nobody can save man from that untimely end for which he alone will be responsible.
Enlightenment, as the modern man claims to have reached, enjoins upon him or her to take all those steps which could ensure honorable survival of the coming generations. We have received a legacy in the form of a fit earth for the human survival and our effort should be to leave it in a better condition once we are gone but instead we are making it unfit for the human life. This never suits to a species which calls itself the supreme of all the creations. The status needs to be regained.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org