“As I lay in the bed, on the early morning of 7th September, revisiting one of my old nightmares, a gushing sound of water and screams is woke me up. Little did I know I would soon wake up to face the worst nightmares of my life. I woke up my husband, as people hustled-bustled across in the neighboring buildings. I gazed from the nearby window of our 3-floor apartment building, fear of the unwanted, stopping me in my tracks. I gathered enough courage to finally slide the window curtains only to lose it at that instant. A whole river of water flowing and screeching right across our street left me frozen. The breaking of walls, screaming of people became more prominent as the water levels started increasing alarmingly. Within a few hours, the water had reached the first-floor level, as I packed my bags with all the commodities I would need for the next few days of ultimate survival. As the helicopters rumbled above, we sat and waited, wondering if we would make it home”.
These were the initial words of my own mother who were one of those thousands stuck and stranded in the recent Kashmir floods. What followed was an enthralling journey of survival, grit and courage. Though this was only the part of what the people of Kashmir suffered, it itself showcases the wrath of mother nature. Even after 2 months of the carnage, the life in Kashmir is yet to resume normalcy. Likewise, it has left a lasting impression on the people all over the world, particularly environmentalists.
As the whole city of Srinagar was submerged, while the residents and rescued people complained about the inability of the Authorities to come to aid, the environmentally conscious lot began to ponder if this was another alarm call for the rampaging man-kind. Sure, one might argue that Srinagar might actually have contributed really less to any stimulus from our side towards such fury. However, it signifies a very important fact. The effect of our devastation is not localised. Some examples of localised effects are those of Mumbai Floods or desertification of areas around The Gobi. But what we have always seen are those of the kind in Kashmir. The Global warming was one of the first reasons to arise for the floods. Due to its vicinity to Snow-laden mountains and Himalayas, Global warming might be one of the obvious culprits.
Second was blocking of Jhelum banks down the line and building of quite a few dams along the length of the river. On the night of the disaster, the Levels of the Jhelum rose rapidly and then broke through the containment walls, and then flood the entire vast plains of Kashmir. Srinagar owing to be a valley remained the worst affected area. But it too had its own crime story. Recent times have seen Srinagar become increasingly polluted. The number of Vehicular and Human traffic has been on the increase since it was established as one of most popular tourist destinations. No proper dumping sites or sanitary landfills meant that the Garbage was bound to rise. Scientifically speaking such dumps into the river which served as the only easy option, lead to increase in the bed-level due to sedimentation. Further, if any chemicals and industrial if so, would further trigger the death of vegetation and plant life and its residues along with the chemicals would be settled, the result? Increase in the Water level. Excessive rains in the earlier few weeks were the main reason behind the water level increase. However, Many still argues that it is once in decade occurrence, and purely accidental.
The lives of people were greatly affected, the whole of main cities were submerged more than 20 feet. The loss of goods of the famous tourist spots seems unparalleled. People of Kashmir, already troubled with the Crossfire between two countries, had lost their loved ones and their property which they built with their life’s earnings. It has always been the scapegoat of being the most insecure and troubled state of India, but humanity arose to condemn those who had suffered and lost their lives. However, everyone failed to see that it was our own actions which lead to these circumstances. Somewhere, somehow we might be the reason for these lost lives.
These charges seem far-fetched but the gravity of the situation is such. We have always somehow managed to ignore and look past our decisive actions. We will all agree that an immediate action needs to be taken. Everyone presumes that our tiny bit of action will not harm anyone. But as they say, small drops make the mighty ocean. Our small contributions lead to the massive amount. Thus, if we want anything to change it is every individual who has to change. But this has been repeated over and over with no effect at all.
It, therefore, becomes inevitable to receive wake-up calls, such as floods and Tsunamis. Mass destruction prevails as Nature tames Humankind. The effect however like Kashmir lingers in the minds of only those affected. The rest grieve, mourn and then forget. This should not be the trend if we aim to progress in a positive manner. The lessons should be learnt and motivation must be taken. We have seen that the effect of individuals leads to this state, then why not the other way round. At least, by guilty-consciousness, we must try and progress towards protecting our God-given gift of nature.
This state of Kashmir saw people realise that money isn’t everything in this world. It is the Love and people around which actually matter. If we want our future generations to inherit the same Natural bounty, then we must follow the path of protection. Why had future generations? Given the destructive pace we are going at, it might actually be us who will need the Nature’s aesthetic beauty to survive through our last breaths. Our efforts will never go in vain, and it’s time we don’t allow any more alarm calls and start acting. The suffering of Kashmiris and the floods teach us a lesson, a lesson of life, of Nature’s fury, of our wrongdoings, of the critical situation we have been dragged into. There’s still time. It’s never late.