BREAKING NEWS

03-05-2024     3 رجب 1440

Dying River Jhelum-A Threat to Survival

February 11, 2024 | Hammid Ahmad Wani

River Jhelum suckledby melting glaciers and blissful springs, begins its voyage with crystal clear waters imbuing serenity and a sparkle of life to it, aptly invigorating the human soul. In its transit due to our unending careless trife, itis losing the sheen and the nectar, turning it murky and filthy. The diminishing gush, amidst of plains despite being amidst of hummocks, continue its journey ahead ,swallowing every drib of its catchment, fresh and contaminated along with wastewaters, grunge and smut of inhabited areas in itsway, slurring and sickening it, enroute to its pursuit for eternal journey. Unfortunately, Jhelum river being visualized from its guise in the form embankments, promenades, trees, connecting bridges, pathways, decks, ghats, and other elements, though vital to its very animated life but in reality, “river subsists where it is twirling through sludgy waters and carries unfailingly whatever flows in”. Knowingly traversing with the calm and placidly hiding fierce within piths at the community is oblivious while inflicting blemishes and forget that Jhelum surely canslay the impending.


Jhelum- As Urban River


Jhelum starts its journey after coming down/oozing out through a town, covers more than 150kms traversing through 13 urban centers including Srinagar city,3 mid-sized cities and 9 towns. It actually travels largeexpanse through cities and towns than the rural countryside which has imparted it, a character of true urban river inhabiting about 90% of Kashmir’s urban population. Srinagar the capital of J&K, located in heart of the valley on the both banks of Jhelum River, is a burgeoning metro-city in whole of Himalayan range. It has transformed into one of the largest, fastest growing and most densely populated city of J&K. A metamorphosing metropolis, similar to many ancient cities, initially flourished for purposes of its proximity to river with Jhelum providing easy access water, acting as means of communication and connectivity to other parts of Kashmir, giving centrality and prime position for trade and commerce along with protection on each bank. It also, at one point of time acted as the primary source forcity’s drinking water. At present, its water is terribly toxic, as huge quantity of untreated sewage and polluted agricultural runoff drains into itevery day. People living adjacent the Jhelum and use its water,suffer from fevers, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and diarrhea. In dire contrast between, what the Jhelum once was, a virtual life giving power manifestation and what it has turned into is not yet catching the attention of policy makers, environmentalists, city planners and the people living up-stream, downstream and in its immediate vicinity .Jhelum River has been vital for people Kashmir in many ways and one of them has been that with the flow water, riverside markets flourished and multiplied in the various parts of the valley, with enormous benefits to the agriculturalists and people. The relationship between human settlement and the Jhelum can easily be found in the form of a denser human population with close proximity to river water. In Kashmir, due to co-evolution of humans and water resources, economy and people have moved closer to Jhelum during medieval period demonstrating the impact and dynamics of human reliance on it for trade, transport, and sustainable lifestyle by adopting quick accessible and amicable resources. Historically, roads construction was an expensive investment and a rare sight and usually were only constructed to connect limited land trade routes and cities. Whereas, water transportation was cheaper and very much faster than any land transportation which turned Jhelum into an important life line and many settlements evolved adjacent to it. People in history followed its course for migration established settlements with abundant water for domestic and agricultural supplies. People learned to stay at one place and as society/community by living near the water. Easy communication connectivity alongside fertile land in juxtaposition to Jhelum rivers benefited the faster expansion of settlements. Reflects the influence of Jhelum on the development of Kashmir as civilization in all facets. However, we never wondered how Srinagar as the largest and most influential city flourish where it exists now?


Jhelum River System


The historical version of origin of river Jhelum is that it oozes and emerges from down the earth at Verinag spring which is symbolically attached to mythical explanations, far beyond the general concepts of hydrology of natural drainage systems and geomorphologic justifications. Actually the river Jhelum’s geographical origin has to be its farthest “head water source” which by mere distance it traverses could be Sheshnag formed by melting of snow and commences sojourn with its outflow. It is here waters surge and gush with vigor, gurgling in its way rivulets and streams till its confluence with Aru River at Phalgam forming Lidder River. Thereafter, it flows up to Khanabal, Anantnag where streams like Bringi, Sandran, and Arapath join it. Lidder River remains the principal tributary of whole drainage system, forms the head waters of River Jhelum the name it gets after leaving Anantnag and is fed by a number of glaciers from the high mountain ranges and springs. Downstream of Anantnag town, River Vishow enters in to it at Sangam and Rambiara join further down below. In its transit from Sangam to Srinagar, Jhelum river is joined by Watlara and Arapal on the right flank, and three small streams viz. Rambiara, Sasara, and Romushi on the left flank. Romushi river ordinarily swells up considerably when it is joined by spill over from Rambiara river. From Khanabal to Srinagar river Jhelum flows along the right side of the valley in juxtaposition to the hills, in a serpentine manner almost bisects valley floor into two halves as well the most of the town and cities located adjacent to it. The level of the embankments from Bijhbhera onwards is higher than its flood plains on the left side . As a result, interspersed marshy areas/ swamps are seen adjunct to cultivable land, during the torrential precipitation overflowing of water inflict heavy damages to the standing crops and property. In the south of the Srinagar, flows River Doodh-ganga which partly drains into Hokersar and partly into river Jhelum. It is a ferocious river during extreme weather conditions it flows with lot ferocity and bring large amount eroded soil, depositing it in the flood plain south and west of the city .River Sindh in the north of city drains down from Baltal, Sonamarg merges with the river down stream at Shadipora on the right bank. Downstream at Bonyari in north east of the Wular lake,the river enters Lakeand takes off from lake in south west near Adipora,Tarzoo and flows to the west south west direction through the alluvial plain for a length of 21 kms up to the bridge at Baramulla near Khanpora. After traversing through the gorge for about 5 kms. ultimately reaches Khadanyar and takes a sharp turn after flowing over rapids from Wular Lake to Khadanyar in a stretch of 26 Kms. In this span a number of streams viz. Ningli, Pohru,Vij, Ferozpur, and Suhknag also join it.

Significance of Jhelum River system


River Jhelum has been very important as it has anchored Kashmiras a civilizationand bestowed valley floor an identity. Jhelum river acts as the lifeblood of the Kashmir. Its economy, social and cultural life are profoundly related to it. Jhelum river system in Kashmir is crucial part of the water cycle, sustains biodiversity, control water regime, hydrological balance in lakes and wetlands and is essential to economy, human health and ecology It provides alluvial fertile soil for farming, a source of food and water, and transport, and acted as the foundation of Kashmir culture. The Jhelum, after flooding leaves fertile, alluvial silt soils on its plains which then enriches the agricultural activities and economy. Most of the cities and towns in Kashmir including Anantnag, Bijhbhera, Awantipora, Pampore, Sopore, Baramulla, Phalgam, Ashmuqam and other settlements have sprouted alongside the banks of Jhelum River. These towns functioned as pivotal trade centers, supplementing administration and allowing management of the whole of Kashmir through decentralization. However, urban areas in valley floor and industries release treated wastewater into rivers, as well as untreated wastewater in addition to storm waters during heavy rainfalls. Researchers have also proved effects of sources of pollution (treated sewage discharge, agriculture, and urban raw sewage and storm water run-off) on different aspects of river systems. The results demonstrated that treated sewage discharge was the best predictor of high nutrient levels, bottom-dwelling algae, and sewage fungus abundance, regardless of the type of land use (agriculture or urban) in the surrounding area. There is ongoing awareness and concern about the cause of the poor ecology of the state of Jhelum river system as it is difficult to disentangle different pollution sources. River Jhelum will continue to be a central element for health, wealth and happiness of Kashmir.


Pollution of Jhelum

Kashmir’s rapidly growing population, thriving and expanding urban areas over the years exacted have a heavy toll on Jhelum river. It is badly contaminated and choked by indiscriminate mushrooming of urban sprawl and draining of black and grey into it. Declining quality of water and the discharge has cached the interest of worried activists, researchers, citizens and media persons who are voicing their concerns and some have even approached to the court to force local bodies, State administration and policy makers to take appropriate measure for its safeguard. Tracing out the degradation of the Jhelum catchment started in the 1960s when the State leased out defined forest areas to cut down the deodar trees for timber without having any afforestation programme in place to replenish it. This was followed with raisingup of construction/ buildings in the catchment areas of the river Jhelum in the absence of development control.
Over the years, rivers and streams of Kashmir have borne the brunt of the accelerated population growth and urban explosion in valley almost tripled from 8.28 lakhs in 1981 to 22.00 lakhs in 2011 and 33.50 lakhs in 2021during last 30 years. Unplanned growth has led to the use of water bodies as dumping grounds for sewage and industrial effluent. From the details provided in the publication on National Inventory of Sewage Treatment Plants, Ministry Environment, Forest& Climate Change, Government of India, March 2021 total sewage generation in urban J&K is reflected as 665 MLD out of which only 49MLD, accounting only 7% of the total wastewater generated is treated and remaining 93% raw sewage drains directly or indirectly in river systems. Since urban Kashmir constitute around 65 % of urban population of the J&K it generates 437 MLD sewage out of which 57.38 MLD(67.78MLD installed capacity –MPR submitted NGT May 2022by J&K) are treated leaving a gap of about 380 MLD daily which are disposed of in Jhelum river system in raw form. The situation in river is very appalling. In addition, riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplains have been claimed over time by infrastructure, slums, offices, and housing developments - all of which have narrowed natural river channels and distorted flow, greatly reducing the ability of river to buffer flooding. It is also taking a toll heavy of biodiversity. Government has established about 100 pumping station on both sides of river Jhelum and about 15 pumping stations on Doodhganga river pumping both grey and black consciously into both rivers. This raw sewage disposed of in rivers is depleting the water quality mainly due to lack of basic sanitation in urban Kashmir. Adjacent inhabited area closes to these rivers which have slope towards the river, its tributaries and waterbodies raw feces along with grey water is draining in Srinagar, Anantnag, Bijhbhera, Pampore, Sopore, Baramulla Awantipora and from a large number of intervening rural settlements. Doodhganga river is also added a heavy dose night soil and grey water from Chadoora downstream virtually turning it into a slush drain.In aggregate night soil of about 3.50 lakh population from Anantnag to Baramulla in aggregate adding about 50-60 MLD in addition to the black and grey pumped through installed pump stations of government. This horrendous disposal creates dreadful problems for the environment and for the health of the population and adverse impacts on the economic development. Pollution in river water further alters the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of a water and generate terrible environmental and health imbalances. Thus, depositing sewage/garbage in Jhelum is causing problems for its “survival”. Without taking too long, the deposition of garbage can cause siltation, that decreases the depth due to presence of solids. In addition,it is effected by the agribusiness and horticulture sectors which are based on mono culture practices and often use intensively pesticides. These pesticides are washed away/ drain ultimately into Jhelum, since it traverses in the center of valley floor, contaminating its water. In the process aquatic life and animals drink which depend on river water is compromised. Process of eutrophication is sped up through an intricate process where the environment produces more organic matter than it is capable of consuming. The decomposition of organic matter, in turn, intensifies reducing the amount of oxygen in the water and producing methane gas (CH4) and hydrogen sulphide (or hydrogen sulfide, H2S). Nutrients exacerbate the decline of waterways/wet land/marshes by promoting the growth of harmful species and deteriorating others. This has seen established in the water bodies/rivers studied through a shift in macro invertebrate and algae communities downstream of sewage input, with more tolerant groups such as bacteria and worms becoming more copious. As a result of this, wastewater pollution has all the potential to alter and destroy critical ecosystem processes via loss of critical species. This deteriorating impact of raw sewage discharge into river declining the quality of water warrants an urgently a comprehensive action plan so as to target the sewage discharge problem. In Srinagar alone sewage both gray and black is pumped in the adjacent water bodies. It has turned condition of Doodhganga very worst and is almost dying. During low discharge it virtually converts into a slush drain with colour of waters purely black. Same is the case with Khushal sar, Gill sa r,Narkara wetland, Anchar lake, Bab Demb lagoon and other water bodies. All State Department which are involved directly or indirectly in wastewater treatment supervision and monitoring are primarily responsible for violation J&K Water Resource Management Act-2010, and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 0f 1974.The National Urban Sanitation Policy-2008 and National Water Policy- 2012 which emphasize reuse of water. The violation is vividly manifested poor water quality of almost all the water bodies.

Riverfront Development Projects

The Jhelum riverfront in Srinagar was taken up in past for beautification and an obvious visual impact was shapedin astrip from Zero Bridge to Amirakadal. Very recently same patch was taken up under Smart City Mission Project for development to attract tourists and improvetourist infrastructure by way of providing promenades, cycle tracks, jetties, florescent lights,open spaces, sitting furniture, revamping ghats and integration with CBD revitalization. Though it has infused life and reinvigorated the shape in this part, however, pumping of raw sewage –grey and black in to the river, cutting and chopping of heritage chinar trees did not augur well and exposed the intrinsic fallacies in conceptualizing plan befitting the local condition and sustainability of the Jhelum. Such efforts are need for the river Jhelum, however, a note caution has to be bear in mind that any development effort which is adopted and chosen shall have to be conceived takinginto account sensitivity of all the elements of project area. Both these project signify the triviality and cosmetic approach adopted till date which in no way is going to sort out critical issues of dying Jhelum.

Way Forward

To safeguard the Jhelum River system including its tributaries, contributing significantly to its discharge, need to have in place urgently a Comprehensive Conservation/Development Plan on regional scale, similar to that ofGanga Development Plan. The proposals contained in the plan shall have to be dovetailed in the master/development of plans all the cities /towns falling in its course from source toits exit at Baramulla. Appropriate measure need to be taken to safeguard catchment, check deforestation, soil erosion, expansion of settlements, stop untreated waste water discharge, disposal of solid wastes, treatment of industrial effluents, and Increasing capacity for regular dredging.The plan shall spell out adequate measures for stopping pumping of effluents in the rivers,cleaning the effluents already dumped and sustained cleaning of river beds. Wet lands /marshes and the intervening water bodies shall also form the part of the plan so as to regulate all the inland water bodies as a “single water regime”,promoting health and life of this natural resource. Relentless focus on community engagement initiatives with strong interface need to be incorporated as an integral part of the plan to ensure strong public awareness and involvement. Participation of different organization and community groups to ensure greater inclusivity in River ecosystem conservation and restoration with focus on resilience and sustainability. Delay in any form would impinge irreparable and obdurate damages to water bodies, ecology, climate, sustainability and threaten the very survival by making future generation vulnerable and to pay heavily for it.


Email:-------------------- hamwani24@gmail.com

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Dying River Jhelum-A Threat to Survival

February 11, 2024 | Hammid Ahmad Wani

River Jhelum suckledby melting glaciers and blissful springs, begins its voyage with crystal clear waters imbuing serenity and a sparkle of life to it, aptly invigorating the human soul. In its transit due to our unending careless trife, itis losing the sheen and the nectar, turning it murky and filthy. The diminishing gush, amidst of plains despite being amidst of hummocks, continue its journey ahead ,swallowing every drib of its catchment, fresh and contaminated along with wastewaters, grunge and smut of inhabited areas in itsway, slurring and sickening it, enroute to its pursuit for eternal journey. Unfortunately, Jhelum river being visualized from its guise in the form embankments, promenades, trees, connecting bridges, pathways, decks, ghats, and other elements, though vital to its very animated life but in reality, “river subsists where it is twirling through sludgy waters and carries unfailingly whatever flows in”. Knowingly traversing with the calm and placidly hiding fierce within piths at the community is oblivious while inflicting blemishes and forget that Jhelum surely canslay the impending.


Jhelum- As Urban River


Jhelum starts its journey after coming down/oozing out through a town, covers more than 150kms traversing through 13 urban centers including Srinagar city,3 mid-sized cities and 9 towns. It actually travels largeexpanse through cities and towns than the rural countryside which has imparted it, a character of true urban river inhabiting about 90% of Kashmir’s urban population. Srinagar the capital of J&K, located in heart of the valley on the both banks of Jhelum River, is a burgeoning metro-city in whole of Himalayan range. It has transformed into one of the largest, fastest growing and most densely populated city of J&K. A metamorphosing metropolis, similar to many ancient cities, initially flourished for purposes of its proximity to river with Jhelum providing easy access water, acting as means of communication and connectivity to other parts of Kashmir, giving centrality and prime position for trade and commerce along with protection on each bank. It also, at one point of time acted as the primary source forcity’s drinking water. At present, its water is terribly toxic, as huge quantity of untreated sewage and polluted agricultural runoff drains into itevery day. People living adjacent the Jhelum and use its water,suffer from fevers, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and diarrhea. In dire contrast between, what the Jhelum once was, a virtual life giving power manifestation and what it has turned into is not yet catching the attention of policy makers, environmentalists, city planners and the people living up-stream, downstream and in its immediate vicinity .Jhelum River has been vital for people Kashmir in many ways and one of them has been that with the flow water, riverside markets flourished and multiplied in the various parts of the valley, with enormous benefits to the agriculturalists and people. The relationship between human settlement and the Jhelum can easily be found in the form of a denser human population with close proximity to river water. In Kashmir, due to co-evolution of humans and water resources, economy and people have moved closer to Jhelum during medieval period demonstrating the impact and dynamics of human reliance on it for trade, transport, and sustainable lifestyle by adopting quick accessible and amicable resources. Historically, roads construction was an expensive investment and a rare sight and usually were only constructed to connect limited land trade routes and cities. Whereas, water transportation was cheaper and very much faster than any land transportation which turned Jhelum into an important life line and many settlements evolved adjacent to it. People in history followed its course for migration established settlements with abundant water for domestic and agricultural supplies. People learned to stay at one place and as society/community by living near the water. Easy communication connectivity alongside fertile land in juxtaposition to Jhelum rivers benefited the faster expansion of settlements. Reflects the influence of Jhelum on the development of Kashmir as civilization in all facets. However, we never wondered how Srinagar as the largest and most influential city flourish where it exists now?


Jhelum River System


The historical version of origin of river Jhelum is that it oozes and emerges from down the earth at Verinag spring which is symbolically attached to mythical explanations, far beyond the general concepts of hydrology of natural drainage systems and geomorphologic justifications. Actually the river Jhelum’s geographical origin has to be its farthest “head water source” which by mere distance it traverses could be Sheshnag formed by melting of snow and commences sojourn with its outflow. It is here waters surge and gush with vigor, gurgling in its way rivulets and streams till its confluence with Aru River at Phalgam forming Lidder River. Thereafter, it flows up to Khanabal, Anantnag where streams like Bringi, Sandran, and Arapath join it. Lidder River remains the principal tributary of whole drainage system, forms the head waters of River Jhelum the name it gets after leaving Anantnag and is fed by a number of glaciers from the high mountain ranges and springs. Downstream of Anantnag town, River Vishow enters in to it at Sangam and Rambiara join further down below. In its transit from Sangam to Srinagar, Jhelum river is joined by Watlara and Arapal on the right flank, and three small streams viz. Rambiara, Sasara, and Romushi on the left flank. Romushi river ordinarily swells up considerably when it is joined by spill over from Rambiara river. From Khanabal to Srinagar river Jhelum flows along the right side of the valley in juxtaposition to the hills, in a serpentine manner almost bisects valley floor into two halves as well the most of the town and cities located adjacent to it. The level of the embankments from Bijhbhera onwards is higher than its flood plains on the left side . As a result, interspersed marshy areas/ swamps are seen adjunct to cultivable land, during the torrential precipitation overflowing of water inflict heavy damages to the standing crops and property. In the south of the Srinagar, flows River Doodh-ganga which partly drains into Hokersar and partly into river Jhelum. It is a ferocious river during extreme weather conditions it flows with lot ferocity and bring large amount eroded soil, depositing it in the flood plain south and west of the city .River Sindh in the north of city drains down from Baltal, Sonamarg merges with the river down stream at Shadipora on the right bank. Downstream at Bonyari in north east of the Wular lake,the river enters Lakeand takes off from lake in south west near Adipora,Tarzoo and flows to the west south west direction through the alluvial plain for a length of 21 kms up to the bridge at Baramulla near Khanpora. After traversing through the gorge for about 5 kms. ultimately reaches Khadanyar and takes a sharp turn after flowing over rapids from Wular Lake to Khadanyar in a stretch of 26 Kms. In this span a number of streams viz. Ningli, Pohru,Vij, Ferozpur, and Suhknag also join it.

Significance of Jhelum River system


River Jhelum has been very important as it has anchored Kashmiras a civilizationand bestowed valley floor an identity. Jhelum river acts as the lifeblood of the Kashmir. Its economy, social and cultural life are profoundly related to it. Jhelum river system in Kashmir is crucial part of the water cycle, sustains biodiversity, control water regime, hydrological balance in lakes and wetlands and is essential to economy, human health and ecology It provides alluvial fertile soil for farming, a source of food and water, and transport, and acted as the foundation of Kashmir culture. The Jhelum, after flooding leaves fertile, alluvial silt soils on its plains which then enriches the agricultural activities and economy. Most of the cities and towns in Kashmir including Anantnag, Bijhbhera, Awantipora, Pampore, Sopore, Baramulla, Phalgam, Ashmuqam and other settlements have sprouted alongside the banks of Jhelum River. These towns functioned as pivotal trade centers, supplementing administration and allowing management of the whole of Kashmir through decentralization. However, urban areas in valley floor and industries release treated wastewater into rivers, as well as untreated wastewater in addition to storm waters during heavy rainfalls. Researchers have also proved effects of sources of pollution (treated sewage discharge, agriculture, and urban raw sewage and storm water run-off) on different aspects of river systems. The results demonstrated that treated sewage discharge was the best predictor of high nutrient levels, bottom-dwelling algae, and sewage fungus abundance, regardless of the type of land use (agriculture or urban) in the surrounding area. There is ongoing awareness and concern about the cause of the poor ecology of the state of Jhelum river system as it is difficult to disentangle different pollution sources. River Jhelum will continue to be a central element for health, wealth and happiness of Kashmir.


Pollution of Jhelum

Kashmir’s rapidly growing population, thriving and expanding urban areas over the years exacted have a heavy toll on Jhelum river. It is badly contaminated and choked by indiscriminate mushrooming of urban sprawl and draining of black and grey into it. Declining quality of water and the discharge has cached the interest of worried activists, researchers, citizens and media persons who are voicing their concerns and some have even approached to the court to force local bodies, State administration and policy makers to take appropriate measure for its safeguard. Tracing out the degradation of the Jhelum catchment started in the 1960s when the State leased out defined forest areas to cut down the deodar trees for timber without having any afforestation programme in place to replenish it. This was followed with raisingup of construction/ buildings in the catchment areas of the river Jhelum in the absence of development control.
Over the years, rivers and streams of Kashmir have borne the brunt of the accelerated population growth and urban explosion in valley almost tripled from 8.28 lakhs in 1981 to 22.00 lakhs in 2011 and 33.50 lakhs in 2021during last 30 years. Unplanned growth has led to the use of water bodies as dumping grounds for sewage and industrial effluent. From the details provided in the publication on National Inventory of Sewage Treatment Plants, Ministry Environment, Forest& Climate Change, Government of India, March 2021 total sewage generation in urban J&K is reflected as 665 MLD out of which only 49MLD, accounting only 7% of the total wastewater generated is treated and remaining 93% raw sewage drains directly or indirectly in river systems. Since urban Kashmir constitute around 65 % of urban population of the J&K it generates 437 MLD sewage out of which 57.38 MLD(67.78MLD installed capacity –MPR submitted NGT May 2022by J&K) are treated leaving a gap of about 380 MLD daily which are disposed of in Jhelum river system in raw form. The situation in river is very appalling. In addition, riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplains have been claimed over time by infrastructure, slums, offices, and housing developments - all of which have narrowed natural river channels and distorted flow, greatly reducing the ability of river to buffer flooding. It is also taking a toll heavy of biodiversity. Government has established about 100 pumping station on both sides of river Jhelum and about 15 pumping stations on Doodhganga river pumping both grey and black consciously into both rivers. This raw sewage disposed of in rivers is depleting the water quality mainly due to lack of basic sanitation in urban Kashmir. Adjacent inhabited area closes to these rivers which have slope towards the river, its tributaries and waterbodies raw feces along with grey water is draining in Srinagar, Anantnag, Bijhbhera, Pampore, Sopore, Baramulla Awantipora and from a large number of intervening rural settlements. Doodhganga river is also added a heavy dose night soil and grey water from Chadoora downstream virtually turning it into a slush drain.In aggregate night soil of about 3.50 lakh population from Anantnag to Baramulla in aggregate adding about 50-60 MLD in addition to the black and grey pumped through installed pump stations of government. This horrendous disposal creates dreadful problems for the environment and for the health of the population and adverse impacts on the economic development. Pollution in river water further alters the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of a water and generate terrible environmental and health imbalances. Thus, depositing sewage/garbage in Jhelum is causing problems for its “survival”. Without taking too long, the deposition of garbage can cause siltation, that decreases the depth due to presence of solids. In addition,it is effected by the agribusiness and horticulture sectors which are based on mono culture practices and often use intensively pesticides. These pesticides are washed away/ drain ultimately into Jhelum, since it traverses in the center of valley floor, contaminating its water. In the process aquatic life and animals drink which depend on river water is compromised. Process of eutrophication is sped up through an intricate process where the environment produces more organic matter than it is capable of consuming. The decomposition of organic matter, in turn, intensifies reducing the amount of oxygen in the water and producing methane gas (CH4) and hydrogen sulphide (or hydrogen sulfide, H2S). Nutrients exacerbate the decline of waterways/wet land/marshes by promoting the growth of harmful species and deteriorating others. This has seen established in the water bodies/rivers studied through a shift in macro invertebrate and algae communities downstream of sewage input, with more tolerant groups such as bacteria and worms becoming more copious. As a result of this, wastewater pollution has all the potential to alter and destroy critical ecosystem processes via loss of critical species. This deteriorating impact of raw sewage discharge into river declining the quality of water warrants an urgently a comprehensive action plan so as to target the sewage discharge problem. In Srinagar alone sewage both gray and black is pumped in the adjacent water bodies. It has turned condition of Doodhganga very worst and is almost dying. During low discharge it virtually converts into a slush drain with colour of waters purely black. Same is the case with Khushal sar, Gill sa r,Narkara wetland, Anchar lake, Bab Demb lagoon and other water bodies. All State Department which are involved directly or indirectly in wastewater treatment supervision and monitoring are primarily responsible for violation J&K Water Resource Management Act-2010, and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 0f 1974.The National Urban Sanitation Policy-2008 and National Water Policy- 2012 which emphasize reuse of water. The violation is vividly manifested poor water quality of almost all the water bodies.

Riverfront Development Projects

The Jhelum riverfront in Srinagar was taken up in past for beautification and an obvious visual impact was shapedin astrip from Zero Bridge to Amirakadal. Very recently same patch was taken up under Smart City Mission Project for development to attract tourists and improvetourist infrastructure by way of providing promenades, cycle tracks, jetties, florescent lights,open spaces, sitting furniture, revamping ghats and integration with CBD revitalization. Though it has infused life and reinvigorated the shape in this part, however, pumping of raw sewage –grey and black in to the river, cutting and chopping of heritage chinar trees did not augur well and exposed the intrinsic fallacies in conceptualizing plan befitting the local condition and sustainability of the Jhelum. Such efforts are need for the river Jhelum, however, a note caution has to be bear in mind that any development effort which is adopted and chosen shall have to be conceived takinginto account sensitivity of all the elements of project area. Both these project signify the triviality and cosmetic approach adopted till date which in no way is going to sort out critical issues of dying Jhelum.

Way Forward

To safeguard the Jhelum River system including its tributaries, contributing significantly to its discharge, need to have in place urgently a Comprehensive Conservation/Development Plan on regional scale, similar to that ofGanga Development Plan. The proposals contained in the plan shall have to be dovetailed in the master/development of plans all the cities /towns falling in its course from source toits exit at Baramulla. Appropriate measure need to be taken to safeguard catchment, check deforestation, soil erosion, expansion of settlements, stop untreated waste water discharge, disposal of solid wastes, treatment of industrial effluents, and Increasing capacity for regular dredging.The plan shall spell out adequate measures for stopping pumping of effluents in the rivers,cleaning the effluents already dumped and sustained cleaning of river beds. Wet lands /marshes and the intervening water bodies shall also form the part of the plan so as to regulate all the inland water bodies as a “single water regime”,promoting health and life of this natural resource. Relentless focus on community engagement initiatives with strong interface need to be incorporated as an integral part of the plan to ensure strong public awareness and involvement. Participation of different organization and community groups to ensure greater inclusivity in River ecosystem conservation and restoration with focus on resilience and sustainability. Delay in any form would impinge irreparable and obdurate damages to water bodies, ecology, climate, sustainability and threaten the very survival by making future generation vulnerable and to pay heavily for it.


Email:-------------------- hamwani24@gmail.com


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