Nature had been gracious to Jammu and Kashmir, bestowing upon it an abundance of natural beauty and a serene atmosphere. Dense forests, mountains, clear streams, lush green meadows, water bodies, and much more abound in J&K UT. Even now, the overall environment is so breathtaking that any tourist is charmed by the land’s wonderful ambiance, particularly in Kashmir valley and some parts of the Jammu region. Our land was almost unspoiled until the beginning of the twentieth century, with every part of nature pristine and free of mankind’s ruthless interfering hands. With the introduction of technology in manufacturing processes and industrialization, mankind’s desire increased unchecked, and the natural resources and near surroundings were the first victims of mankind’s materialistic need, resulting in massive devastation to the delicate ecology.
To feed the rapidly growing population and satisfy their selfish desires, humans resorted to indiscriminate looting and theft of natural resources at the behest of political patrons. The earliest victims of human interference were forest land and other sections of the ecosystem. Vast areas of forests were cleared to make way for enormous sections of cultivable and residential land, and much of the terrain was modified to facilitate selfish activities. Over time, uncontrolled interference with nature caused ecosystem disruption, resulting in the erosion of valuable topsoil, the endangerment, and disappearance of particular flora and animals, flooding, and water scarcity. In every field of life, democracy gives emancipation and freedom, yet an early and flawed democracy invites greed and vandalism. The first rays of freedom ushered in a new species of plunderers who, like vultures, encroached on natural resources at the behest of their political mentors and a faulty system. Mother Earth is being depleted and de-shaped continuously.
Vandalizing natural resources and ecosystems has put every part of our lives at risk, and some losses and harm are irreversible and irreparable. For the building of so-called infrastructure, forest cover and forest area have decreased significantly during the last few decades. Interference with forests results in the disappearance of many plant species and the disruption of animal habitats, culminating in the increasingly widespread human-animal conflict. Forest and other forms of vegetative cover play an essential role in the water cycle, especially in districts with higher elevations. Any tampering with these ground covers will result in long-term catastrophes. For decades, a large chunk of the terrain of the JK UT, particularly in the plains, has been disturbed to make way for so-called modernization and ill-conceived development. Nature has its own system for natural feature evolution and development, and any disruption of this system in any form leads to calamity. The flow of water from catchments to the plains creates some water features and other landscape structures with different contour levels to allow proper water harvesting, recharging the declining water table, and maintaining appropriate drainage.
Nature creates undulations, depressions, and other contours in accordance with the environment, resulting in a natural and beautiful landscape. Disturbing this natural arrangement of landscape features over time has harmed the UT’s soil cover, drainage potentials, and overall beauty. Another evident pattern of ecological incursion is the conversion of enormous areas of cultivable irrigated land into habitations. The forest land has been severely affected by this shift in topography, and we are also losing valuable crops grown in this nice climate. This is why we are seeing a decline in the output of essential horticulture and floriculture commodities. With each leap of land grabbers and real estate developers, other crops have died off. All of this is taking place while officials stand powerless. Mother Earth, in this otherwise lovely state, is indeed crying! Crying out for help from someone who can help us get out of this dilemma. Our UT of Jammu and Kashmir is on its way to becoming a site of destruction, suffering, and curse if the brutal hands and apathy of its residents for their materialistic urges continue. Hopefully, the present J&K UT administration will focus on these issues with utmost priority to safeguard the future of its residents as well as implement the policies and programmes framed already and continue assessment at the higher levels.
The author is an Environmental Science Lecturer from Doda. Feedback at [email protected]