Thankfully that National Green Tribunal has come to the rescue of this once pristine Doodganga river of District Budgam originating mainly from the high altitudes of Poonch District of J&K.
The NGT has recently passed strictures and has ordered formation of a five membered fact-finding Committee mandated to file a ground report before the tribunal.
While it remains to be seen how far the facts visa vis the status of the river are reported by the team yet it’s evident to the naked eye that sadly we have been able to spoil this main water source for a large portion of the Srinagar city.
And we can easily witness spoilage of this drinking water source throughout the district Budgam from where it’s serpentine curves stand encroached, spoiled and dirted by the population mainly living alongside it’s fronts all along Chaddora-Kralpora belt and beyond.
Along it’s bunds numerous structures have been raised in the catchment areas mostly illegal and with the result many untreated effluents directly pour and contaminate this scarce water source.
One can easily locate many service and wash stations established illegally on its sides including some big structures, even bandsaw mills.
On many fronts adjacent to the river illegally graveyards have been established over the years altering the immediate topography.
And as the river enters the Srinagar city jurisdiction we can see a remarkable deterioration in its water quality, carrying capacity and status of it’s bunds.
The river fronts depict a sorry state of affairs and is full of effluents and particulate matter. With dead carcasses of animals easily visible and other sorts of undesirable and non-degradable waste. Add to it the illegal sand mining by the sand mafia which is going on a large scale while disturbing the faunal life plus the dirt and muck directly unloaded on the river bunds. This all gives a damning bad look.
Now that the authorities have recently ordered banning of open litter-throwing anywhere near the Doodganga river fronts it remains to be seen how the government enforces the same. And how far the vigil goes and continues.
While questions have been time and again raised on the untreated sewage directly emptied on many points into this river, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has been held “responsible” by many a citizen groups whereby it has been alleged that the required parameters are not being met in the discharges emptying into the river.
Otherwise meant for storm water collection many drainage networks constructed on ADB funded schemes in the uptown catchment areas have reportedly turned into fully littered effluent-filled discharges which empty itself into the river basin. Thereby greatly impacting it’s faunal life to a large extent now and from many years on.
Now therefore in this backdrop one can only imagine the “quality” of water supply scheme directly lifting the water from such an “unclean” source. And what treatment it’s meted before the same water reaches the end source as a drinking water package ?
To the surprise of many it’s reported that at the Kralpora water treatment plant there only cholrine-gassification occurs and thus a major portion of the srinagar city is supplied with this piped supply only. The same experts opine is hardly “sufficient” to “treat” the quality of water uplifted.
It’s needed that a “purity audit” of the Doodganga water supply scheme is conducted by a team of experts and all such “loopholes” detrimental to public health be identified and “corrected” by installation of a state of the art “purifying” machinery.
It’s also needed that a major anti-encroachment drive be initiated by the administration of the twin districts of Budgam and Srinagar through which this much important river flows later emptying itself into Hoakersar wetland.
It must be freed from all sources of pollutants via encroachment and breach of its river fronts.
Audit of all such drainage systems be carried and water quality verified at regular intervals and flow of untreated seewage immediately blocked.
Moreover what’s required gradually is a proper bunding alongside the river fronts of Doodganga and and landscaping equally to improve the immediate topography of this otherwise quality water source of a majority of populace of Srinagar city.
(Arshad Dijoo is Gold Medalist in Journalism and can be reached at [email protected])