The serpentine Jhelum divides historical town into two parts – civil lines and the old town where most of its population lives. In the past the pristine flow of gushing water not only added the beauty of town but it also provided potable water for thousands of its inhabitants living in both the parts of the town.
The entire town of Baramulla gets its drinking water through lifting stations from river Jhelum. However, the banks of the river now presents very awful picture, full of dirt, filth and polythene wastes. Not only the river banks from Khawjabagh to Khadinyar have been encroached at many places, but the beautiful banks have been turned into the dumping sites none other than Municipal Council. The officers of Council instead removing encroachments from the river banks and cleaning the banks from filth are in a deep slumber. Even an illegal sumo stand was allowed to thrive on the bank of Jhelum where government was planning to construct a beautiful park.
At three places in the main town, heaps of polythene and waste material is a testimony to the facts that how town has been overlooked, however, the department that has been assigned to keep the town clean, especially the water bodies have failed to do its job.
“We drink water from this river. It pains to see when filth, dust and waste material is dumped in this river. Even Municipal Council officials dump waste on the banks of river, which no civilized society can accept,’’ said Naseer Ahmad, a government teacher who lives at Azad Ganj on the banks of river.
“Not only government but people living in this town are responsible for this mess.’’
What an irony that shopkeepers and hoteliers in the town instead of dumping waste materials in the dust bins love to throw the waste which is highly poisonous in the river or on its banks. In the dead of the night hotel owners dump waste product into river from the bridges as they have well patronage from the department meant for cleanliness.
‘’This river is most polluted part in the town as both Municipal Council and the residents are responsible for turning it into a dust bin. And by doing this people are ruining their future’’
Locals alleged that they tried to draw attention of officials about this menace, however, the officials failed to take any action against the culprits as they are in league with the violators.
“The Municipal Council officials are only bothered about the money; they do nothing to maintain cleanliness of the historic town, especially river Jehlum. And it is very unfortunate.’’
Two decades ago, to beautify the banks of Jehlum, the massive plantation drive was launched on the banks by the government, even the river banks were properly fenced, however, locals damaged fencing at many places even stole some poles and made this plantation unsuccessful. Though, plants near Azad Ganj attained good height that turned the river banks into scenic place.
Unfortunately, the Flood Control department is now planning to axe all those trees which are adding into beauty of the river and town. ‘’The trees add into glory of river banks. The department of Flood is now only after these trees and want to axe them, while houses and other structures that are constructed on the river banks have been spared. It is very sad and if these trees are chopped down, the banks will lose its beauty,’’ says Mohammad Shafi who lives at Gousia Colony.
The locals have demanded that government should formulate a plan to beautify the banks on the similar pattern that has been done in the Srinagar. ‘’The banks could be made beautiful. Once you will have beautiful banks and parks, the locals will hesitate to spoil the river.’’ Another local said that J&K government even had made a beautiful park on the banks of Azadganj and floriculture department used to take care of that; however, the park was converted into fencing portion of land and then left abandoned. ‘’The vast stretch of land has now become den of unscrupulous elements, who are misusing this place,’’ says Javid Ahmad.
President Azad Ganj, Ishfaq Ahmad Dar said that government should try to beautify the land on both sides of river Jehlum. ‘’There is a scope to construct several parks on the government land, besides walking paths. But nobody is paying attention towards it,’’ he says and adds that in absence of government patronage every person is after this land.
Baramulla legislator, Javeed Hussain Baig said that government has a plan to develop banks of river Jehlum right from Khawjabagh up to Eco Park. ‘’Not only we will retrieve the government land, but try to beautify this entire stretch. Even government has a proposal to construct a cable car from Eco park to Hajibal. This will definitely bring entire area on the tourism map.’’