Encroachments reduce canal to drain in Baramulla

Zoog ‘canal’ on verge of extinction in Baramulla.
Zoog ‘canal’ on verge of extinction in Baramulla.

Suhail Bhat
Baramulla, Dec 4: Zoog Kull or Zoog canal in North Kashmir’s Barmulla town is on the verge of extinction, owing to years of encroachment, siltation and lack of will from the administration.
Owing to the topography of the region, which is prone to cloud bursts and flash floods, the canal was an important natural drainage for the entire area.
However, the encroachments and dumping of entire neighborhood waste has made this storm water drain inefficient which has resulted in its blockage and chocking at several places. This has put the entire neighborhood vulnerable to inundation.
Locals said the canal was once 40-feet wide but siltation and encroachment have reduced it to a mere 6-feet sewage drain. “Over the years, people have encroached upon it by constructing cowsheds, houses and shops, and the authorities have turned a blind eye to the issue”, said the locals.
Abdul Khaliq, one of the locals, said the stream has never been cleaned and alleged that the encroachers had been encouraged by the local administration. “The stream has never been cleaned despite being in the Baramulla Town. The silt and waste accumulated in the stream have blocked it.  Flood water cannot drain properly and creates water logging,” he said.
Khaliq also alleged that Government was ruining the ecological balance by discharging all the sewage into the stream. “All the local drains have been diverted into the stream which has affected the population of ducks and water fowls who would paddle in these waters and since all the neighbourhood waste is being dumped into the canal it puts the entire population vulnerable to diseases,” he said.
Due to dry weather, the locals said, the stream receives less water from mountains which has resulted in accumulation of heaps of plastic and polythene at several places. They said the garbage attracts stray dogs and birds that can be seen scavenging for food in the rubbish thereby, posing threat to the pedestrians.
“The stray cows can also be seen roaming around these places and they consume plastic and other harmful substances from these places which cause serious injuries to their intestines and stomach. Just visit Mohalla Jamia, Mohalla Noor, Mohallah Arif, Mohalla Baghdadi and Mohalla Naqashbandi and these localities are the worst victims of this apathy,” the locals added.
Executive Officer, Baramulla Municipal Corporation, Ghulam Rasool Shah, when contacted said: “I will visit the spot and see if the claim holds water. I will also dig some old records of the stream so that I can mark the encroachers and once all the necessary details are collected we will take action. Let me locate the stream first.”