Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ecological Degradation Affects Ancient Springs

Iqbal conveys the sad news

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Ancient Springs of South Kashmir are Dying

Scarcity of water is one of the grave problems in many parts of India. There are certain such areas where people have to still wonder for drops of the water during the times when seasonal monsoons are delayed. The shortage of water is more serious in the peninsula region of India.

No doubt that government of India has taken up integrated water conservation schemes to conserve the little water sources available in these areas. But the fact I remains that the sources of water in these regions are extremely scarce. When we talk of our state of Jammu and Kashmir, We all knew that things in Kashmir are quite different. Generally the shortage of water is no such grave problem here because nature has bestowed this glorious valley with plenty of water sources. To quote a poet, he says,

rastay mein sangrazu nay deya pani mujay
zara zara ha meray kashmir ka mehman nawaz

(Even tiny pebbles gave me water in the way, every thing welcomed me in Kashmir)

Infact there is no lack of natural water sources. God has been so kind to this land and its people that it is able to welcome its guests with its perennial water fountains. Apart from snowfields and glaciers, the valley of Kashmir is treasure of the underground wonderful water sources which provide the required water facilities to its people with its natural openings. These are called locally nag and nagin (the major and little Spring). These springs are mostly found in the villages of south Kashmir where there is hardly any village where one does not found any nag or nagin. These sources are more significant in the sense that here People have to spend nothing to get the naturally purified water. Interestingly these springs supply cool waters in hot summers and warm water in cold winters.

These springs constitute our wonderful heritage where we need no alternative water heating and cooling technologies because nature has already done it for us. Although nature has been so kind but we are the people who have proved to be the main destroyer of this natural water source heritage, infact have lost number of glorious village springs while many springs are fastly dying.The state government authorities have totally ignored these little sources , they do not pay any attention towards these village springs. They formulate and execute major conservation plans for bigger projects, like Dal and Wullar Lakes. Ironically crores of rupees are yearly been spent in conservation of these major water bodies but what are the results? The volume of water and the length of these sources have been considerably decreasing. The local media has also been reporting stories about the dying of major water bodies but it also never highlighted the problems faced by our little village water sources. Not only the government authorities the local village people have also turned indifferent to their glorious springs, they do not preserve their village springs. Several of these springs are filled with unwanted wastes but there is no body to clean up these springs. At several places the spring lands have been filled with soil and its lands used for other purposes.

The scores of ancient springs of Kashmir valley are fast dying due to public and government apathy. one such evidence of grave negligence can be experienced at Zainapora Shopian, where the famous ancient spring of Nilnag is breathing its lost and state authorities of water conservation body as well as the people of Zainapora area have became mere spectators of this dying water body.

Nilnag is one of the ancient springs situated in between the villages of Zainapur and Hafsheermal in southern Kashmir. It has been the deepest spring of this area and served as the major irrigating and drinking source to the dozens of villages of Zainpur. Besides it was once the main picnic spot of the area where the neighboring school children used to go for their picnics and enjoyed the beauty of its green waters. However the site has almost lost its pristine glory, the spring has been dying fastly. It has become a dumpage,and the waste of standing olden trees falling in its waters have filled its depth and shrieked its outlet. The spring which once rose in green waters nowadays has turned a simple dirty well.

As per reports the spring has not been cleaned of its dirt and dumping since from decades together, neither the district administration nor its neighbors have any modesty to even clean the spring from its tree wastes. Infect the spring has lost its glorious waters and is dying fastly. Experts view if steps are not taken at an earliest, we may lost one anther small water body.

It is in place to mention here that this Nilnag is also recorded in the folk lore of this land. A curious legend states that once a Hindu priest who arrived at this spring desired to measure the depth of its waters. For this purpose he sat on its bank and prepared a long rope. He attached a stone on the one end of the rope and then threw it in its waters; the attached stone is learnt did not touch the ground of the spring. But these days the spring not only has lost its historic depth but volume of its pure waters as well.

1 comment:

Nazir Ah. Shaikh said...

I am thankful for highlighting the Nilnag at this level. it was a great spring & is near to its extinction. it was considered the deepest spring in entire kashmir valley perhaps more than Wular lake. But due to the apathy & negligence it is now reduced to about 50 ft dimensions. if maintained, it could still get back some glory. but there is no plan for conserving such springs neither before the people of the area nor the distt. authorities of shopian. i am resident of Zainapora & i know its glory since my childhood. We have enjoyed many picnics in its vicinity. it has still sweet blue waters to quench thirst of thousands if conserved & used as drinking water resource.