Unpardonable crime

Mankind should not be surprised at various kinds of natural calamities recurrently befalling it as the time cycle moves without break. For many of these tragedies, scientists and geologists bring forward the laws of cause and effect. We do not disagree with them. After all natural phenomenon does not keep a calendar and man, despite all his ingenuity, knowledge and inquisitive faculty, is not able to make any dependable or even undependable prediction about what course a natural happening might take and what catastrophic consequences it may carry in its womb. Nature is benign and nature is cruel, it is essentially uncontrollable. Man has learnt to live with its vagaries and adapt to a situation in which he is placed. The aborigines of Amazon live a life of their own that has come down to them from generations. This is also visible among the African forest tribes and Australian Bushmen.
This is what it is. But man has proved wilder than the wildest nature. It is a long distressful saga to enumerate what atrocities man has committed against nature. How he has destroyed pristine purity of forests, lakes, rivers, streams, valleys, snow-clad peaks, fresh air and the world of vegetation and floriculture, is lamentable and unpardonable. How ironic that the nature which provides man his source for sustenance bountifully wrecks the very source so brutally as if he does not want to live for the next day. Mankind is out for unlimited plunder and destruction of water bodies, forest and mineral wealth, green cover, fresh air, fertile soil even glaciers and wild life. If the process of destruction of nature goes on without check, the earth shall soon lose many attributes that are essential for human, animal and bird life. We are already facing water crisis, deforestation and environmental pollution. Billions of dollars are spent annually to restore nature to its pristine purity.
In this respect Western countries have wasted no time in finding preventive measures to destructive sources. Their efforts are focused on preservation and perpetuation. Wanton deforestation has been totally stopped all over Europe, and afforestation has provided green cover to many new locales. In the same way, industrialization is controlled in a manner that it has the minimum impact on environs and ecology. Air pollution has been controlled and cities and towns flourish in clean air and pure water.
Why have we not been able to borrow the experience from them and utilise it for our own benefit? The fact is that destruction of ecology and pollution of the air and environment cannot be altogether attributed to the Governments. It is the people who are to be held responsible for disrespecting nature. Take the case of River Tawi, which, according to tradition is called Surya Putri or the daughter of the sun. This beautiful river springs from the pure and fresh waters of the Himalayan peaks, and flows down majestically through gorges and ravines, taking into its lap the arterial streams and nullahs and thus forming into a mighty and powerful river. On the right bank of this river, atop the hillock is perched the old and historic city of Jammu. For centuries, people drew water from Tawi for their daily use. Men and women of religion and faith came on selected days to its banks to have a dip and pray to the Sun God from whom the river flowed. Religious sanctity endeared Tawi to the people of the city and those living in villages situated on its banks. It became part of their civilizational manifestations.
This is one side of the story. But let us also look at the other side which is sordid and gloomy and brings only disappointment. How have the people of this century been treating this sanctified object of nature?  It is a sad story. They have abused its sanctimony out of sheer ignorance or callousness. Its banks have been denuded of all greenery and forest cover by forest mafia. Its water is polluted beyond all limits by turning all nullahs into it that carry the garbage, night soil, litter and refuse of the city. Rapid increase in population of Jammu became a curse for the river and its arteries. Downstream of Nagrota, the once shining and transparent waters of Tawi have turned into huge cesspool of garbage dumps that kill the water bodies and fish life. From Nagrota to RS Pura, the entire water line is a cesspool of dirt, filth, garbage, polythene stuff and the refuse. No attempt has ever been made to do some drudging and cleansing of the river. Our MLAs and Ministers  from the region, who debate the billion rupees worth projects of cleaning the Dal and other lakes in Kashmir, remain tongue tied and do not speak a word about the destruction of Tawi. This speaks of their callousness and lack of sense of responsibility. But we have said that maximum responsibility for this obnoxious scene has to be shouldered by the people who have no moral, spiritual, historical or aesthetic compulsions to force them not to pollute the water and not to destroy forests, wild life and green cover so that the river retains its pristine purity. We have no hesitation in recommending that authorities should frame laws according to which harshest punishment will be given to those who tamper with the ecological purity of the river, its beds, banks and adjoining landscape. Perhaps, conscientious civil society can itself take steps to bring awareness among the people of maintaining cleanliness and purity of water and air.
At the same time, we would also recommend that the Government floats a mega project of cleaning the Tawi, diverting its arterial adjuncts, preserve fisheries, create embankments at vulnerable places, prohibit spreading litter on its banks and maintain vigil on people who would come to pray, or enjoy the scenic beauty of the river. We also think that some drudging is also needed at selected places to ensure smooth flow of water. Even the historic Ranbir Canal that brings the water of Chenab to the plains of Jammu is also in a state of abject desolation with pollution of its water that is expected to irrigate the fields yielding precious crops.
The Government should have a Water Board for Jammu to which all these requirements will be entrusted for proper execution. It has to be an organization with clear instructions and road map of how water bodies in Jammu region can be cleaned, preserved and maintained in their pristine purity.


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