A number of factors are behind pollution of the water bodies in Jammu and Kashmir. Among others, discharge of untreated and partially treated domestic sewage from cities and towns as well as Urban Local Bodies, industrial effluents in their respective catchments, are main factors. There are also problems in operation and maintenance of sewage and industrial effluent treatment plants, lack of dilution and other non-point sources of pollution. As per the experts, rapid urbanization and industrialization have compounded the problem.
According to the last report published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in September 2018, nine polluted stretches were identified in Jammu and Kashmir based on monitoring results in terms of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), an indicator of organic pollution. However, in 2019 and 2021, CPCB has identified eight polluted river stretches.
In context of the Dal Lake, the flagship of Kashmir tourism, as well as Jhelum, the lifeline of Kashmir, there is still untreated sewage finding its way into these water bodies. As per experts, the weed growth, fish loss, declining water quality etc can only be arrested if sewage flow is halted or treated properly.
It is the responsibility of the concerned authorities to ensure the cleanliness and development of rivers within their jurisdiction. Cleaning of rivers is a continuous process and the government must supplement the efforts in addressing the challenges of pollution by providing financial and technical assistance. There are many Centrally Sponsored Schemes regarding interception and diversion of raw sewage, construction of sewerage system, setting up sewage treatment plant (STP), low cost sanitation, river front and bathing ghat development, etc.
Last week, the Chief Secretary rightly directed the officers to focus on optimum utilisation of all the Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said endeavour of all the concerned officers and officials should not only be enhancing the treatment capacity of the STPs but on the quality of treatment done by them. There is no point treating some waste water to a high degree and mixing it with untreated water, he stressed and rightly so.
As has been pointed out by him, there is a need for exploring options of short term and intermediate solutions for sewage treatment where STPs are yet to be developed. These short term and long term solutions need innovations in their approach towards grey water and sewage management.
There is a need for regular review of the implementation of various action plans to address the problem and the same should be done sans any laxity.