Azhar Yousuf and Aruba Qayoom
The human race is destroying precious natural resources in the name of development and technology. Forest land is being grabbed and is diminishing at an alarming rate. The once freshwater bodies are becoming poisonous due to the accumulation of toxic materials and the particulate matter in air is ever increasing. Such degradation has given birth to a series of problems ranging from climate change to life-threatening diseases.
Deforestation has also caused soil erosion, famines, and habitat degradation of animals. If the deforestation continues at the pace it is going on, the time is not far when the whole planet will look rotten.
With the intent to increase the harvest, the use of fertilisers is polluting water bodies. The pollution spurt across the entire planet has led to acute global problems with global warming being the most noticeable one.
The visible climate changes bear testimony to the surge in the pollution across the globe. To sum up we can say that the irresponsible deeds of mankind are posing a serious threat to all the species on the planet.
Although our valley offers splendid views of snow-clad mountains, pristine water bodies, and lush green forests, but the pollution level in our valley is not much different from the rest of the world. The valley which is regarded as “Heaven on Earth” is continuously losing charm and the natural colours are fading fast. Recent studies reveal that the pollution level in Srinagar has touched dangerous levels and if left unaddressed can provoke a vicious cycle of diseases. According to studies, particulate matter in the city has touched 348 µ/m3 which is five times higher than the permissible limit of 60 µ/m3. The Dal Lake which is regarded as the jewel in the crown of Kashmir has diminished by around 25% in its area from 1859 to 2013, mainly due to the multiplied pressure from unplanned urbanisation, high population, nutrient load from intensive agricultural practices, and tourism. Both the flora and fauna of our valley have been under serious threat for a long time. The Kashmiri Stag (Hangul) which is a rare and iconic deer found only in our valley has undergone a massive decline in population from around 5,000 individuals in the 1940s to a mere 237 individuals in 2019. Several aromatic and medicinal plants including Aconitum deinorrhizum (Methapatees), Aconitum violaceum (Patees), Meconopsislatifolia (Gul-e-Neelam), Saussureamedusa (Snow lotus) are also on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss, overexploitation and invasion of other weeds.
The southern and northern parts of the valley have also witnessed an uneasy surge in pollution and loss of biodiversity. It is pertinent to mention that the dense forests around the tourist resort of Pahalgam diminished to 191 from 1961 to 2010 with an average annual loss of 3-9 2m2
The above-cited statistics are a testimony to the fact that our relationship with nature is abusive and imbalanced. Our conscience has been so suppressed by materialistic lust that we often forget that our sustenance is only due to nature. As is the famous saying of the saint Sheikh-ul-Aalam (R.A): “Ann Pooshe Telli Yelli Wan Poshe”, nature has always served the whole of mankind like a mother and has been immensely kind to our valley.
The blessings of mother nature can be ascertained from the saying of the Mughal emperor Jahangir: If a roasted bird is brought to Kashmir, it will come out with wings and feathers. However, much to our dismay, we have been victimising mother nature with our demon-like activities.
It is the need of the hour to join hands and preserve nature both for our sustenance as well as for our future generations. The preliminary step towards the preservation of nature is to spread massive awareness among common masses regarding the importance of healthy surroundings. The most profound act would be to impart education regarding nature at the kindergarten level so that the love of nature is instilled in the heart and mind at the earliest.