With residents and authorities prod one another over its responsibility, flowing Lolab stream praised by Allama Iqbal – RA – remains a dream, reports Shahjahan Afzal
Lolab, (Kupwara): Almost every toilet in Kupwara flows straight into the snow fed and famed Lolab Stream – turning it into a public cesspool. This has not been done by anyone other than municipal authorities, residents, hoteliers, traders and transporters of the region.
While residents and the authorities prod one another over its condition and cleaning, a pristine, flowing Lolab Stream praised by Allama Doctor Sir Mohammad Iqbal in his famed poetry and the main drinking water source for tens and thousands of souls living in the low lying areas- remains a dream.
“Pani Taeray Cheshmoun Ka Ubhalta Huva Seemab, Murgan e Seher Taeree Fizavoun Mai Hain Baitaab
———- Ae’ Wadi e Lolab – Ae’ Wadi e Lolab” ———–
The couplets from late Allama’s poetry explain the level of his profound love with the bubbling brooks; ponds and other water courses of Lolab that collectively form the gushing Lolab Stream.
Today decade’s later people continue to throng all across to discover Allama’s Wadi e Lolab.
However call it an irony that a section of hoteliers, fruit and vegetable vendors are hell-bent and throw their remaining dirt and filth into the water course. A large number of locals dump heaps of garbage on its banks and transporters wash their sumo’s, trucks and buses into it.
The story does not end here the authorities of local municipal committee have constructed concrete latrines, a slaughter house on its banks besides discharge drains of the town into it.
The residents hold authorities at pollution control board equally responsible for its degradation. For them the agency is limited to issue NOC’s in favour of prospective entrepreneurs. “Organising seminars, debates and raising environmental concerns doesn’t seem their assignment”, Advocate Rayees ul Ahmad a local said sarcastically.
During a visit to the barrage last week, this correspondent saw that the stream was nothing short of a sewer. Household refuse, polythene and cow dung was lying embedded in the silt and womenfolk were washing clothes with detergents there.
To verify the level of contamination robust members of civil society Kupwara collected a number of water samples from various localities of the town. However it was baffling to see the samples failing the test as it contained a high degree of contamination.
Ironically Instead of taking some initiative to keep the water body clean, the local municipal authorities are waiting for implementation of some river specific development plan that envisages erecting fencing on both the banks of the stream.
However, this would not solve the purpose as rest of the stream flows through populated areas of the town and many other villages’ right from Khorhama, Warnow, Kalaroos and Hayhama areas of Lolab assembly segment, and Chokibal of Kupwara assembly segment to this place.
An engineer posted in the town said he does not remember if the stream was ever cleaned. He said that neither any government agency come forward to clean it nor having educated people about the hazards of water pollution.
Defending their position municipal committee officials say they were helpless as residents, were adamant to throw and dump garbage to form compost on banks of the stream.
“Once upon a time, this town was rich in perennial water bodies and a thriving natural habitat for water birds”, Abdul Gani Baig Ather, a local poet while recollecting his good old days said & added, “We would sit, chat and even eat on the stream banks. But now everything is so dirty and stinky here.”
Showket Massodi Convenor Civil Society Kupwara grieving the silent and poisonous death of the historical Lolab stream urged that the municipal authorities must restrain the release of untreated sewage water in the Stream and should conduct awareness to stop its pollution.