Prof K G Gupta
Jammu the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir state is also famous in Northern India as the city of Temples. one may enter any locality, lane or by-lane; he is likely to find a big or small temple. When I was a small child studying in primary or middle school in early fifties, one particular characteristic was mentioned in the school books about Jammu being a clean city. In those days bazaars, lanes & by-lanes were paved with dressed stones with well laid drains on both sides. There were hardly a few bituminous roads. Ragunath bazaar, Kanak mandi, Residency road, Palace road down to Shalimar were bituminous roads. City was mainly confined from Mubarak mandi (Darbar Garh) to Gumat but Jammu was definitely a clean city as compared to large cities in Punjab viz. Amritsar and Ludhiana. Reason for this cleanliness was that Safai workers performed their duties regularly and with a sense of sincerity to their job. Sweeping of roads, stone paved bazaars and lanes was done regularly as also the drains were cleared as a daily routine. Population was less and quantum of garbage was also proportionately less. Whenever there was rain , all the garbage, filth was washed down the city roads and after the rain, it seemed as if the entire city had been clean washed. In contrast the cities in Punjab presented a muddy and filthy look as rain water accumulated in various localities due to inadequate gradient.
Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir has imposed a ban on the use of polythene in the state but everyone is using it with impunity and without any fear. Municipal authorities have failed badly to check the menace of polythene. Himachal Pradesh Govt. has successfully imposed ban on polythene then why cannot our state do it.
Residents of Jammu used to boast of the cleanliness of their city. Through the fifties and sixties the population of the city was limited to less than one lakh. Colonies like Gandhinagar and Bakshi Nagar had come into existence but still the population was not so dense. The city contained green forest areas all around. Right from Hari palace to Ambphalla, present Karan Nagar right side of Shalimar, B.C.Road and both sides of river Tawi were full of thick plantation, rakhs & forest areas. Traffic intensity on all roads including the B.C.Road was low and people used to go for morning and evening walks along B.C.Road right from Tawi bridge to Hari Palace and onwards upto, what were called Ramnagar morhs. Across, the river Tawi, there were forests, bushes and shrubs with a very little habitation. Talab Tillo and adjoining areas had large fields, plantation areas, mango groves with a distributry carrying clear water from Ranbir canal flowing in the middle. Water of Ranbir canal was clean because no drains were allowed to flow into the canal and there were no localities on the sides of this water way in those days. To sum up, one could say that Jammu was a clean city as well as a green city.
But conditions have drastically changed during the last sixty years. Population of the city has increased more than twenty times. The city area has also increased from a few square kilometers to almost a thousand square Kilometers with city limits having extended from Nagrota to Akhnoor on one side and up to Vijaypur on the other.
The burden of increased population has adversely affected the health of the city. All the forests and plantation in and around the city and along both sides of the river Tawi have all vanished. On the right side(city side), there are multi-layred haphazardly constructed shabby houses intruding right into the river bed. It seems as if the city is bulging out due to the burden of over growth.
On the left side, some green patches are visible in between the concrete block of university of Jammu. Similar situation is emerging all over the city. As the city grows forest areas contract and finally vanish, while pollution level increases. Vehicular traffic in the city has increased tremendously during the last sixty years but roads are same with no possibility of widening. In place of horse driven tongas, bicycles and few local buses, the city roads are now crowded with uncountable bikes, cars and thousands of mini buses. The traffic congestion and parked vehicles leave no space for any tree plantation along these roads.
Today, the main city presents a filthy look. Citizens never care to keep environment clean. People throw the garbage from their houses into the adjoining lane. Dumping site have come up outside every lane creating an impression of a stinking city. Consumerism has increased the quantum of garbage manifold. Polythene is the biggest factor, responsible for untidy cities, choked drains, dying rivers and other water bodies. Safai workers also, sometimes, find it much easier to dump the garbage collected from houses into the nearby drains and nallahs.
Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir has imposed a ban on the use of polythene in the state but everyone is using it with impunity and without any fear. Municipal authorities have failed badly to check the menace of polythene. Himachal Pradesh Govt. has successfully imposed ban on polythene then why cannot our state do it. Perhaps there is lack of will and determination to ban the non destructible nonsense on the part of every individual living in this city. All the drain and nallah are blocked due to polythene. These choked drains and nallahs start over flowing during rains creating havoc in the low lying localities. After the rain, every bazaar, every lane, by-lane presents a horrible look, littered with mud, filth and garbage.
Jammu, which was once known as clean & green city, is now, fast turning into a filthy city engulfed in traffic jams & congestion, a city of choked drains, a city where hundreds of stray dogs throng the roads and lanes, a city where score of beggars swarm towards your car at every crossing and during traffic jams, a city of damaged roads with pot holes and ditches.
In the words of Mr. Sanjeev Chaturvedi, Magasay award winner “we have become cockroaches who love living happily in filthy environment.
But this sorry state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue any longer. Every person living in this city must follow the footsteps of our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and become a dedicated protagonist of Swach Bharat Abhiyan to ensure that the dream of clean Jammu – green Jammu does not remain merely a slogan rather it becomes a reality.
We must learn to keep our houses, our streets and bazaars, offices and institutions neat and tidy. Educational institutions have to play an important role. Teachers have to imbibe habits of cleanliness among their students. Religious preacher’s can play a major role by asking their followers to keep the environment clean. The Pujaris at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, during their daily discourse at the time of morning pooja deliver sermons advising the pilgrims to maintain cleanliness because cleanliness is divine. This is highly appreciable. This must be followed by every preacher, katha vachak and even during Ratri jagrans.
Roads in Jammu city needs widening wherever possible. New roads and highways have to be developed. The proposed ring roads around the city should be constructed immediately to ensure better traffic management.
Sewage project taken up by era must be completed in shortest possible time, otherwise sewage network already laid in a large number of localities will forever remain unused causing a loss to the exchequer amounting to crores of rupees.
The Government, the Municipal corporation, safai workers, house wives shopkeepers, Govt. employees, social workers, the NGOs working in and around the city, religious preachers, teachers, students and all common citizens must take up the cause and strive to make Jammu a clean and green city. Although there is very little scope for tree plantation, yet all available space needs to be preserved and then converted into green blocks and green belts. Social Forestry department should conduct a survey of all such areas and then work out a plan to convert Jammu into a real green city. Both banks of river Tawi can be converted into thick forests, right from Sidhra down up to Tawi islands and beyond. Bahu Rakh and Mahamaya hills are idle locations for dense aforestation which could become an attraction for the tourist. All educational institutions should make plantation drives, a permanent feature. Youth must be motivated to develop intense love for trees.
But foremost step is to develop a love for cleanliness in the minds of every single soul living in the city. Unless the citizens feel the importance of neat and clean environment, all other steps shall prove to be exercise in futility.
Let all of us, living in Jammu city, strive for making this city the most beautiful clean and green location, where one can live with pride and honour. Let us get rid of filth, garbage, polythene, stray dogs, monkeys and beggars as otherwise the idea of smart, clean and green Jammu will always remain a distant dream.
Let us rise and wake up to attain the noble goal. Let us start just today from our own home so that we can be proud of being a citizen of clean and green Jammu.
(The author is presently working as Principal, IECS Polytechnic, Purkhoo, Jammu.)