Prof. (Dr) R.D. Gupta
Many rivers and other water bodies in Jammu and Kashmir have become the prime target of pollution due to an inadequate system of waste disposal. The case of river Tawi in Jammu, the river Jhelum and the Dal lake in Kashmir, which despite their world famed beauty have been turned into receivers of direct sewerage drain. The Plusta river in Poonch and the Basantar river in Samba are yet other glaring examples of the neglect in which these water bodies are facing. The truth is that much of the garbage and filth of the cities and towns is directly or indirectly being dumped into the water bodies around, polluting them abundantly. People of Jammu have often expressed their concern over massive pollution of the river Tawi as most of them complain that once a scared water body, often used for performing religious rites, is today reduced to a dry filthy bed of garbage. It is attributed to over 42 nullahs flow into the Tawi that accommodates garbage of the entire old Jammu city.
Not only this, the problem of garbage heaps in the main residential areas and on the road side in the Srinagar city is creating problem who pass that way. Such mounds of garbage can be seen oftenly all over the roads and streets of the whole city from Lal Chowk to Hazartbal. Other prominent places suffering from this problem are: Soura, Hyderpora, Ram Bagh, Sadarpora, Batamaloo etc.
Although,ironically the Jammu and Kashmir state has been endowed best owed with a number of perennial rivers- The Chenab, The Ravi, The Tawi as well as the river Jhelum, Suru and the Indus. There was a time, when water from all these rivers as well as Ranbir and Partap canals, ponds and wells was used to be crystal clear and pollution free as no sewage drains used to fall in the rivers. After bathing in rivers and canals, the people of Jammu chanted the name of God offered prayers as per their faith. Many of them both men and women could be seen with a Garhwa full of river water, which they offered to Tulsi or peepal tree. However, now a days almost all water bodies of Jammu and Kashmir have become highly polluted. The water of the rivers like Ravi, Chenab, Jhelum, Tawi, and seasonal streams are highly polluted due to industrial effluents, disposal of organic wastes vis-à-vis disposal of night soil and animals dead bodies.
As per the latest study conducted by Sharma (2015), indicated that the fresh water at sources viz,Sittlee, Boria filtration plants and tube wells from where the citizens of Jammu get their drinking water, are quite right and hence, there is nothing to panic. However in rural areas demand for water comes primarily from farm sector. Above all, the folk can meet their drinking water from bore well, streams, rivers, springs, lakes etc. it is extremely shocking that more than 30,000 persons in Ghagwal (Samba)and adjoining villages in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district are forced to consume unhygienic water unfit for human consumption. According to one report, water supplied from a 50 years old tubewell was prone to water borne diseases including diarrhea and jaundice.
Although in Jammu and Kashmir state, groundwater polluted with NO3 has not been reported so far, its presence can be possible in the near future keeping in view large amount of cities garbage near wells, and also through damaged linings of sewerage channels, sewage, and animal and agriculture wastes. We see the river Tawi which is over polluted as most of the wastes of Jammu city are going into this river.According to some Medical Doctors, water pollution is the worst problem in Jammu and Kashmir as various chronic diseases of stomach, liver and intestines have been detected among patients. It is because many people of our State are consuming polluted water to a great extent which is dangerous.
In irrigated areas of Jammu and Kathua districts and Kashmir valley, where main crop grown is paddy and where large amount of injudicious fertilizer especially urea is used to supplement plant nutrient for its growth and production. As most of the fertilizers applied to the crops are not fully consumed but part of them remain in the soil which through run off enters into the river- The Jhelum, Dal and Wular lakes directly from the catchments. Nitrogenous fertilizer (urea) having runoff coefficient (5-30%) tends to deposit more readily in the aquatic bodies in the form of nitrate. Accumulation of this form of nitrogen along with phosphorus causes eutrophication- vegetative growth in the water bodies, especially of algae. Eutrophication becomes harmful for the flora and fauna of the water bodies including fish.
Traditional Sources of water
People of several areas both rural and urban in Anantnag district, face extreme shortage of drinking water. While most of the areas remain without water supply scheme others get water which is far free from being fit enough for drinking purpose. Many villages including Hirri, Trehgam, Ticker, Hayan, Gushi and some Lolab villages of Kupwara are reeling under immense water scarcity (Shah, 2013). According to some locals from Trehgam village, the women folk have to fetch water from Nallahs, when the taps have run dry. They feared that the consumptions of contaminated water from open Nallahs might lead to the water borne diseases. Like the people of the village of the Kashmir, the people of Jammu region are also facing lot of problem for securing clean drinking water. For instance, villagers of far flung areas of Sundarbani are reeling under potable water shortage due to deficient rainfall. Similarly the villagers of Lakhil, Bacloli, Parangoli, Kadot, Banuchak, Dhali, Mangloor and many more belonging to kandi areas of Billawar are still without water and mostly depend on traditional sources of water and as such they are not getting pure drinking water (Anonyous, 2013). As most of the natural water resources in Sundarbani villages have totally dried up so have created many problems for residents who have to cover several km everyday to, fetch potable water.
Due to non availability of potable water people have to rely on old water resources like ponds, boulies etc, for drinking water which have usually become unhygienic, especially during the rainy season. Thus, it is concluded that like many parts of Kashmir region water pollution also exists in Jammu region and sometimes people have to take polluted water.
(The author is Ex -Associate Dean Cum Chief Scientist, K V K,SKUAST-JAMMU)
Prof. (Dr) R.D. Gupta