Author Archives: shahishaharyar

About shahishaharyar

Chartered civil engineer,Fellow institution of engineers India, Member Indian road congress,Member American society of civil engineers, Presented over 40 papers in various seminars,published books on environment,history,genealogy.

Maulood-i-Barzanji

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Maulood-i-barzanji was recited on 30tj June 2013 in the house of Kh. Mohammad Yasin Kashtwari and Kh. Mohammad Amin Kashtawri at Haidar Colony Soura Srinagar. The session was led by Janab Mohammad Yasin Bangi (Muazzin of Jamia Masjid Srinagar). Scholars from shrines in Srinagar participated besides relatives and neighbors.

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  FIRST EVER KASHMIR BICYCLE MOVEMENT LAUNCHED IN SRINAGAR

 In my childhood I would find more bicycles running on the streets and narrow lanes of Srinagar, than tose of the present days plus a sizable number of pedestrians and a few tongas driven by  horse. Later Govt. buses were introduced, which would charge an Anna (one sixteenth of a rupee) as fare. The other name of Anna was ‘pond’ and the buses were called ‘ponda-bus’. Most of the time the buses would wait for long for the passengers to board and overloading was a rare chance. Once an elder neighbor of mine gave me lift on the carrier of his cycle. By chance my back foot got peeled off by the spokes of his bike and it took many days to cure it. By this I developed a fear about the cycle. However during my degree engineering course in Annamalai University South India, I felt the need of cycle as our college was about 2 kms. away from our hostel. I bought a bicycle in 1960 and used it all the three years in the University and carried it to Kashmir in my train journey back and used it here too for a pretty long time. I developed such an affinity with this bicycle that I did not use the other one gifted to me by my in-laws till that one got rusted for disposal to a kabbadi. Later my son also used this bicycle for some time. However due to availability of alternate vehicular transport, I gave up this mode of transport and it is after about half a century now that I have reverted to cycling by buying a bicycle and visiting nearby areas. The idea of buying the bicycle was that of Irfan my son, who had arranged a stationery cycle for me to have indoor exercise after my open heart surgery in 2009, which again was the result of my sedentary way of life for a year or so. The other day I drove the bicycle first time after about 50 years for a distance of 06 kms. in the early wee hours and it made me to recall my college days and the peace I used to experience by riding a bicycle simultaneously enjoying the surroundings.

On seeing this new cycle bought by me, Gowhar my other son clicked the idea of starting the Kashmir Bicycle Movement and within two days imagine, he could muster 200 fans for this idea on his face book and this is how the first event of Zalgur-1 on Northern Foreshore Road of Dal Lake on 22nd June, 2013, took its birth with over a dozen participants to be followed by many more such events, till it grows into a mass movement Insha- Allah!

 Gowhar Fazili and others have posted on  face-book:

 01.Have you ever come across an old man on the roads of Srinagar. The man goes with the name Kamal-ud-din Andrabi. He must be centenarian now. He used to pedal around slowly on his bicycle, wearing his achkan and topi when I was a child and proud owner of a small cycle myself. Even those days he was very old and had a long white beard that was peculiarly pointed and twisted on the end. I am told he still goes about on his cycle, though his speed is further reduced.
Through those nightmarish years of militancy — winter and summer he kept riding on his bicycle unfazed. Though I am told he did not live very far from our home, his distances were of a different order… for he had been sighted riding in other districts of Kashmir too — as far from my place as Khannabal(50kms)andBandipora.
He, and people like him are the inspiration for this page

 02.Did you know that in the original plans the Northern Foreshore Road from Naseem Bagh to Nishaat was supposed to be a pedestrian mall/ cycle track till it was replaced by a two track motor able road by the policy makers?

 03. Today I rode a cycle after a long time. I rode about 3 kms to and fro from Soura and bought some medicine. Such distances should not require cars. I realized it has been a long time since I rode a cycle in Kashmir… about 20 years! I recalled how wonderful it used to be when I was younger. As kids we used to cycle around and steal apples and swim in a small rivulet. As I grew older, once a dear friend of mine and I took a thirty-five kilometer circuit through the paddy-fields and wilderness, past the water bodies and hills, through the lake with our cycles in a boat and back home. We only ate tsochiweir and drank lassi on the way and we managed it fine. The year was 1990, the army was all around but we were oblivious of it and did not care two hoots. That day will remain etched on my mind for ever

 04. One very important concern of this movement is how to make cycling safe for women in Kashmir. How do we create a culture that men don’t trouble women while they ride and experience the freedom. How do we create a culture that is respectful of women? We will need all your suggestions in this regard

 05. One track we can reclaim is the Pipe Bund that bifurcates Dal Lake from Naidyar Old Bridge to Nishat It could be an ideal cycle track. It could be the site for our first cyclothon. But a few of us should go for a reccee and check if the track is in good repair. We would also know the status of inner areas of Dal Lake in the process.

 06. One town where I saw cycling in vogue was in Roorkie. Everyone, the professors, the students as well as the town around the campus used cycles. Somehow the cars had not become a status symbol in the town.

 07. One track we can reclaim is the Pipe Bund that bifurcates Dal Lake from Naidyar Old Bridge to Nishat It could be an ideal cycle track. It could be the site for our first cyclothon. But a few of us should go for a recee and check if the track is in good repair. We would also know the status of inner areas of Dal Lake in the process.

 08. The movement promotes bicycles and cycling, because it is healthy, ecologically sound and stylistically cool. It brings us closer to people and nature, reduces dependence on money and carbon fuels, does least damage to the environment and gives us a sense of Azadi (freedom)

 09.  Let us start a cycle renting service for tourists so that they leave their cars in the parking. ‘You can only appreciate Kashmir at the cycle pace.

 10. While riding on the Naseem Bagh – Buchpora road I smelt the smells from my childhood transporting me some 25 years back in time. I realized though the place has transformed spectacularly — all the orchards of Hazratbali Apple are totally lost to housing –there are some green patches left and on those patches there are some residual trees and a couple of kids were still stealing fruit after school

 11. Thank you dear Kashmiri brothers and sisters the Bicycle Movement has crossed 200 in two days. Let us hope these numbers reflect on the roads when we take out our cycles in a group.

“I would like to congratulate the admin’s of this page for initiating such a great movement. If a success (I personally am positive about it), it will be a huge leap towards improvement of healthy thinking (in many ways) for the people of our place.

12. A note of appreciation from Shazia Naqshbandi:

 I have visited more than 18 cities in different countries and envy when I see people, almost all around the developed world using bicycles for transportation, from all walks of life and of varied status and professions. I would always think when will people of our country also realizes this. I wanted to do something in this direction. But I don’t presently living in Kashmir. Then the fear of the way people think of those who live outside Kashmir stops me,esp. people would go like ‘Ha aye yem wane ‘aamerica’ peteh ase-hechnavne’.

I am very, very glad to see this happening. What is important, is someone initiate this no matter who, as far as it is initiated with a honest motive and serve a good purpose.
In short, the reason of this long message is, I am really happy about this and want to say all the best.
P S: I would be more than happy, if I can help in some way for the cause.

 13. Mohd Shafi Sahib of the United Cycle Works liked the idea of The Kashmir Bicycle Movement. He is not just a bicycle shop owner but a cycling enthusiast in his own right. I remembered having bought my first RMI branded cycle from the same sh…See More

Mohd Shafi Sahib of the United Cycle Works liked the idea of The Kashmir Bicycle Movement. He is not just a bicycle shop owner but a cycling enthusiast in his own right. I remembered having bought my first RMI branded cycle from the same shop when I was a small kid.  Do introduce the best Cycle shops in your neighborhood and also the people associated with them so that we establish a personal rapport with them and harness them for promotion of cycling.

14. As cyclists and cycle lovers, we need to be grateful to the community of “cycle-khaars”, (sum1 translate it into English), they have traditionally been cycle mechanics or menders, even today we need to go to them for air pumps.
Lets celebrate these skilled workers…!
(Aaqib Hussain)

15.  Some begin early!

The kids lead the way, all the way! They did some ten kilometers without a complaint! They are the future of the Movement! Proud of you Wamik and Qadeem. You are brave boys! Photo Credits: Jasim Malik

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16. Our man Wali Jeelani broke his foot yesterday because he was trying to cycle after decades. Regardless he came to cheer us up. Since I was too exited I was on the starting line an hour earlier than suggested. He was the next one to come and express his solidarity for the movement. He stayed with us all along and provided great company and transport to others who had come to cheer us up. A really humble and unassuming man and yet so motivating!

17. The man with the classiest bike. He rides it everyday to the university from his home and I am sure on many adventures around the valley! If you need advice on purchasing cycles, he his the man

18. My dad was the earliest to wake up and join us for the trip. He kept motivating us with his stories about his earliest cycle experiences

19. This team that arrived all the way from the other end of the city Rawalpora, Rajbag etc via Dalgate was too camera shy so you will not find many of their face-to-face photos. Yet they covered around 40 kilometers to and fro from their homes. There is hope in Kashmiri legs.

20. Our one and only Maria Hearty was there for us at the start as well as the finish line. She promised tea that never came  But her presence was good enough! What is more, she is inspired to buy new bicycles for her whole family.

21. Our man Fayaz Dar not only rode on his black beauty gracefully he also pushed along another cycle that had a puncture over a great distance. Now that requires acrobatic skills and goes beyond the brief of a cyclist.

22. Zaffar was so miffed following the episode, he went straight home and did not care to spend any more time with us! I think his cycle was rude! It must have been some old issue between the two…

June 2013 19:33

Sad for Zaffar his cycling lasted exactly for the length of this video before he had a puncture. Teaching us that cycles, like horses have their own minds and that we as a team should carry solutions with us on the next Zalgur event.

23. I was thinking that Kashmir Bicycle Movement is a great antidote to the phenomenon we call ‘clicktivism’ It is a form of activism in which a person feels that he has done a great deed by simply liking like for support or signing ones name on a petition. Cycling involves slogging. It means you have to miss your morning sleep to join your friends at some distance and carry your own burden. Associate with your fellows and make sure they all get to the destination safely. It builds bonds with real people who can then carry out other useful humanitarian or political causes with real love and commitment towards society.

24. Not to forget our dearest Adil Hamid Kaloo who not only posed with a cycle, he expressed his deepest regrets for not getting his cycle along and atoned by paying for the refreshments getting his cycle along and atoned by paying for the refreshments

25,  For a few hours NFR was reclaimed by the cyclist citizens of Kashmir restoring the road to its original purpose of making it somewhat human, bird, fish and insect friendly

26. I request the participants to share their own reflections and visuals if any on the event and also tell us how to make them better. This will help us improve things in future and also to inspire others and provide a kind of community to other lone cyclists in Kashmir and let them know they are no longer alone.
While we deserve all the fun we can have, we should always remember that this group has a larger goal and a commitment towards making Kashmir pedestrian and cyclist friendly regardless of their gender and class and in the process instill collective responsibility towards our home – Kashmir

27. Kashmir Bicycle Movement aims to reclaim streets of Kashmir for people, displace cars and restore pride in riding bicycles.

Description

The movement promotes bicycles and cycling, because it is healthy, ecologically sound and stylistically cool. It brings us closer to people and nature, reduces dependence on money and carbon fuels, does least damage to the environment and gives us a sense of Azadi (freedom).

Strategies & Objectives:

- Reclaim certain tracks, paths, lanes exclusively for walking and cycling.

- Identify routes that are still fit for cycling and promote their use and protection.

- Carry out mass cycling events and expeditions.

- Build a knowledge base about the history of cycling in Kashmir and its high points

- Chronicle landmarks, facilities, shops where cycles can be bought, hired or repaired.

- Promote institutional use of cycles in various campuses, like the university, the engineering college etc where cycles may be lent from car parking/ the gate to various departments.

- Lobby for pedestrian and cycle friendly development.

- Change attitudes make people proud of cycling.

 (Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili)

WAZWAN OR MAZWAN

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Wazwan or Mazwan

 

 

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili
A few days back I got trapped in a “Hamrah-i-Shah”, at a ceremonial function accompanying the bridegroom at late night. The invitation card indicated the time of the departure of the barat at 8 p.m. Unlike other places of the world, time is a free commodity for us and as usual the barat left four hours past the scheduled time, at 12 o’clock midnight. Instead of adopting a shorter five-minute route, the guide preferred a long roundabout that consumed an hour more.

 

 

Thus we reached the bride’s place the next day as per calendar. The reception and warming the meals took another hour. The meals were finally served at 2 a.m. and finished at 3 a.m. We left with the bride by 4 a.m. Meanwhile, there was a call of Azan from the mosque and we thanked Allah on bestowing on us the sense of punctuality at least for Azan-call.
During the serving of the Wazwan the usual order of serving the courses was violated as besides usual preparations like the ones covering the trami (copper rice plate shared by four persons sitting around), kababs, tabakh maz, chicken, methi maz, dhani phul, over six new varieties were served before the usual first course of meat preparation that is when Rista was served. This was followed by many more courses and all of us were condemning the extravagance and lamenting on becoming a silent partner to this large scale waste, but none had the moral courage to protest against this violation. Perhaps our sense of realization has died down and we have become slaves of our traditions burdened by showmanship and rat race. Since the guests could eat hardly 20 percent of the dishes served, we on our part persuaded one of us to carry the spared dishes to our home in a polythene bag. It was a great relief when the person agreed to the proposal.
It is believed that Wazwan has its origin in Iran or Central Asia, but no traces of it are reportedly found there. It might have been a Kashmiri innovation like Kangri, Wagu, jajir, etc. The Wazwan was a prudent way of serving meals devised by our ancestors, as instead of serving individuals separately; four people shared the same plate, which would lead to easier service besides closer contacts and also mutual sharing and enjoying the food. Each part of the lamb was utilized in preparation of a particular dish like the chest for preparing tabakh maz, thighs for dhani phul, rista gushtaba and kababs; other parts for preparing rogan josh, korma, etc., and the order of serving was besides the coverings of the plate – rista, rogan josh,  cheese, aab gosht, korma, gushtaba. This would be just sufficient for four persons with 2 kgs of meat per plate with no wastage. Now we have resorted to more than double the quantity and some people are seen galloping down ten times more calories than the required ones and hence succumbing to the resultant frequent diseases as registered in the hospitals. The average requirement of calories per person has been worked out only about 1600-2500 per day. Assuming that the stomach is flexible, they fill their bellies in one go to their full extent with all solids salads, curd, half a dozen chatnis plus ice cream and a tin of Coke or Pepsi, etc.
In spite of the present dearth of meat due to boycott of the dealers, meat has been made available in plenty for marriages, as much as five to ten quintals per function. The function as such must be rechristened as mazwan instead of wazwan.
Once I happened to read the diary of an Australian tourist girl, who had recorded therein that she wondered how Kashmiri people would eat a plateful of rice, when she hardly could take just a spoonful of it and even then her stomach got upset. At another incident an official guest from Thailand refused to take a kabab, saying it would raise his cholesterol level, while as our overweight minister hosting the party consumed half a dozen kababs making the guest aghast with wonder.
In another function a French tourist shared wazwan in the trami with us. While asking him about his whereabouts, he disclosed that he is a Muslim convert, the reason being that he had got impressed by the simple burial given to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, when he too was there in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. However, when he saw meat dishes being poured on our plate and getting stockpiled for disposal into dustbin, he said that had he known that Muslims waste food in such a manner he would have reconsidered his decision to convert.
Let us pray that attention of preachers and medicos is drawn towards advising the common people about the plus and minus points of wazwan and the number of calories found in the different courses of these preparations against the average body requirement. An NGO needs to inculcate the sense of time among common people. The host is handicapped when the guests come late, who at present wait for a mobile response to start of service of the feast. The recent turmoil had made people to make amendments in timings, number of guests or number of courses, but with the relaxed atmosphere, we are heading back to square one.
There is an alternative method of service in South India where Biryani is served in a huge flat container and every one sitting around pour Biryani in his respective plate according to his requirement and there is zero wastage. A trend towards buffet service has also begun, but common people seem to be not in its favor.
In view of the extravagance, the new generation is adopting a revolutionary simplified approach of nikah ceremony being held in mosques with distribution of a few palms. The money wasted on wazwan and all the pomp and show serves the future needs of the newly married couple or for distribution among the needy and downtrodden.

THINK. EAT. SAVE.

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 Man is the noblest of all creations. All nature including sun, moon, stars and sky has been subservient to man. Human race is raised up as the best community for mankind. Despite this lofty station, human nature is described as frail and faltering. Whereas everything in universe has a limited nature and every creature recognizes its limitations and insufficiency, man is self destroyed, ungrateful, rebellious, mischief maker, full of pride, arrogating to himself the attributes of self sufficiency.

MAN-THE CROWN OF CREATION

Out of the whole creation on Earth, it is the human being only, who is crowned with the power of a higher intellect and is hence known as ‘Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat’- the crown of creation. He can select what is right or wrong for himself and for his fellow beings and can adopt measures for saving his environment. He can select which food is beneficial for him without making any waste and he can plan, how to save and distribute the surplus food among his fellow creatures that are starving due to unequal distribution or due to poverty.

The other side of the coin is that in spite of being equipped with higher intellect, it is man only who is responsible for generating tremendous waste and all other animals like street dogs, monkeys, wandering cattle, flying birds and even insects serve as scavengers to consume most of this consumable waste and they at times fall prey to the hazardous effects of harmful wastes. Even the trees which are axed by man, exhale oxygen which is inhaled by man and they in turn inhale the carbon dioxide exhaled by man. Besides they bear fruits and fuel for man. The flora and fauna yield fragrance to the atmosphere and add different colors like lavenders, roses, daffodils and tulips etc. to the surroundings. The chirping birds and running streams usher into a music that sends a man to sleep. The singing bees provide curing sweet honey. The medicinal plants provide us with curing drugs. But it is man who pollutes his own atmosphere with carbon dioxide, poisonous gases and causes noise pollution. Man’s arrogance has made inroads even into the depletion of his protective ozone layer. He pollutes his own waters of springs, rivers and lakes, which ultimately terminate into the seas of the globe adversely affecting the marine life. He also is responsible for the pollution of soil, which feeds him, sustains him and also which gets trampled under his feet without registering any protest.

EARTH THE ONLY KNOWN LIVING PLANET

The evolution of earth from cold stellar debris to spinning dynamo and the gradual building of the atmosphere may be unique in the universe. No other planet in the solar system at least shows any sign of life. Of the four building blocks for life, hydrogen was created in the first second of the universe, carbon; nitrogen and oxygen were fused in the great nuclear core of a massive star that exploded before our sun was formed. It was the energy of our sun, however, that forged these elements into the complex molecules from which life developed. But, as well as being a giver of life, the sun can also be deadly and the earth requires protection from its lethal rays.

Out of all the galaxies of innumerable existing known stars in the Universe, it is the Earth only which carries life on it, that was considered to be sustained by water, fire, soil and air – (Aab-o-Atash, Khak-o-Baad- the char anasir)-the four basic elements. When life began, 3.5 billion years ago, the first oceans were still only a few degrees below boiling point. There, in waters bombarded by ultraviolet light from space and played on by lightning from massive thunderstorms, the first amino and nucleic acids, the building blocks for life, were formed. It has happened many times and in many places in the Universe- astronomers have detected amino acids floating between the stars- but on earth it gave rise to a history of life which may be unique in its extraordinary variety and abundance.

There are between 3 to 10 million different kinds of plants and animals alive today and possibly twice as many were once alive but are now extinct. Everyone has been built from these basic materials and yet everyone is unique. That is the double miracle of creation: the flow of genetic information across the ages and the editing of that information into almost countless separate categories. The editor is the environment. It selects those organisms for survival that are best suited to life in each particular environmental niche and ruthlessly destroys those that cannot make use of the resources around them.

The story of mankind begins in the tropical forests of at least 65 million years ago. Some 35,000 years ago, human beings physically just like ourselves were living in Europe, Africa and Asia. Over the first 2 million years of human history, our ancestors were entirely dependent upon nature’s whims of food. It is only within last 10,000 years that they have settled down to farm the land and control their own food supply.

About 7 billion people are alive today (growing to 9 billion by 1950). Every second three more are added to the total, a growth of more than 10.000 an hour and over 80 million in the space of a year.

Food is mankind’s raw energy resource- the fuel that fires the human boiler- and maintaining supplies constitutes man’s biggest single concern.

Agricultural efficiency has increased at a staggering pace: in 1980 the World’s farms produced twice as much food as they did in 1950. As a result, the earth today grows enough food to support its population, with plenty to spare. But the pattern of production is uneven and many areas still go short.

Thousands of different kinds of plants are consumed by man but first three – wheat, corn and rice –account for about half of the world’s harvest. By no means every niche of the planet’s surface can be exploited for crop farming, however for a combination of three basic factors- sunshine, moisture and soil – determines where the global harvest can be gathered in. At present only 11 percent of the earth’s land surface is farmed for crops, while a further 20 percent is thought to be cultivable.

GREEN REVOLUTION

One major factor in the recent boon in food production has been the development of new, high-yielding strains of wheat, corn and rice. Cultivated with modern fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and irrigation techniques, these grains have generated what is known as the Green Revolution. Bumper harvests have been the result. But the techniques modeled on the practices of U.S agriculture have had their critics too. The chemicals required by high-yield strains are derived chiefly from fossil fuels, which have become increasingly costly since the oil crises of 1973. Mechanized farming too, consumes energy resources- about 25 gallons of gasoline are required to produce one acre of corn in USA. Such farming tends to benefit large farmer with capital to invest at the expense of the small farmer.

The world is witnessing adjustment towards the kind of organic farming practiced in China. Here crop waste is recycled to provide fertilizer, so that less synthetic matter is required. In addition mixed cropping is practiced: grains are planted with legumes- the soybean- is already a post world war 2nd success story in the developing world. It is grown increasingly for its high protein content and adaptability and its oil is used for making paints and chemicals, as well as margarines and cooking oils.

The greatest hopes for feeding future generations lie in plant breeding and genetics. Resistance to pests and diseases can be bred into crops so that spraying with hazardous chemicals becomes increasingly obsolete. Strains may be developed to cope with harsh climates of desert or tundra. Modern techniques of gene transfer offer possibilities for cultivating radically improved species. Tens of thousands of potentially edible species have been identified and it may yet prove possible to carpet the world’s most barren wastes with new forms of nutritious vegetation.

HOW THE PLANET PROVIDES

Prophet Muhammad (PBH) said over 1400 years back: Planting a tree is a continuous source of blessing (Sadaqa Jariah) for the person who plants it. Shaikh-ul-Alam, Shaikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA) (d. 1430 AD) – a great Kashmiri Sufi saint said about six hundred years back- “ANN POSHI TELI YELI WAN POSHI”- i.e. food is subservient to forests.

The dense multilayered canopy of the tropical forests is one of the miracles of life on earth. It covers only 8 percent of earth’s surface but may harbor more than 40 percent of all species of plants and animals. This massive biological resource not only provides fuel and building materials but is a critical regulator of the world environment, protecting the topsoil, governing even the flow of rivers, and on a global scale, helping to maintain a balanced climate. But the forests are under pressure. As many as 100 acres of tropical forests are being destroyed every minute- a total of over 83,000 sq. miles a year. Perhaps twice that area is being seriously degraded. Timber harvesting and cattle ranching play their part in the destruction, but as significant are the slash and burn techniques of the 150 million forest farmers in the world today. Some places such as westernmost Amazon and parts of the Zaire basin, where the population is not so intense can be sure to survive at least partly intact.. But in western Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayan watershed, most of the unique and the irreplaceable forest will soon have gone forever. The only real solutions to the destruction of the tropical rainforest lie in the control of population growth; increasing yields of good land; planting alternative sources of timber and fuel wood; and ecological sensitivity in development projects.

DESERTIFICATION

About one third of earth’s surface, fringing the great deserts, is arid, often subjected to prolonged draught. Natural ecosystems here are adapted to long dry spells and can take them in their stride. But when such areas are put under pressure by rising populations and the demand for food, their ability to spring back to productiveness after draught is severely reduced. The rains when they come, rather than soaking into and feeding the land, can wash away the soil, extending the limits of the desert. Every year about 47,000 sq. miles of agricultural land are made worthless this way. The process of desertification is probably worsened by the increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, produced by the burning of fossil fuels, which are likely to raise global temperature within this century by up to 4.5 degrees C. A problem of such vast proportions is not easily dealt with. A reduction in carbon dioxide emission from the industrial countries will help. Keeping animals and vehicles off certain areas can reestablish vegetation. The deliberate planting of forest and shrub stands- in the Soviet Republics, India, and China – reduces erosion on a local scale.

OUR FOOD

Climate and environment are the world’s great chefs, giving Mexico its tortillas, Greece its goats milk, cheese; China its pork spareribs and Japan its seafood dishes. And it is regional variations in these two factors that strongly influence what is raised where.

As stated above the world’s three main cereals are wheat, corn and rice, each of which has its special needs. Wheat is a crop of the temperate prairies and will tolerate very cold winters. Corn is vulnerable to frost and is therefore confined to a warmer climate band. And rice favors the special combination of warmth and copious rainfall that is found especially in monsoon zones.

Grain constitutes about half of the world’s food production by weight, but similar factors associate other crops with particular environments: for example, grapes with Mediterranean climates and the potato with dull, cloudy skies and clammy soils.

There are vast expanses of desert and bleak uplands whose lean and rocky soils support little more than coarse grasses. Since the human stomach cannot digest grass, it is the livestock here in particular the sheep and the goats- that act as our food converters, yielding meat, milk and cheese.

Cattle can be raised in a temperate band stretching from the edge of the Sahara to the margins of the Arctic Circle. But cattle, like sheep are ruminant’s digestive system calls for a diet chiefly of grass and which require wide grazing area. These are an inefficient food resource for the world’s overpopulated regions and due to vulnerability to the tsetse fly, are especially scarce in the humid tropics. China is the main producer of pork yielding nearly 40 percent of the global total.

Fish like all other food-stuffs, display preferences for habitat. Cod favors the cold waters of the North Atlantic, while tuna prefer warmer seas; flatfish, such as halibut feed on the seabed, while herring cruise close to the surface. The principal fishing grounds are all in coastal zones where nutrients, leached from the land, mix with the rich sediment that is swept up from the sea floor by ocean currents and offshore winds. These waters comprise our teeming marine meadow lands, thick with tiny plankton supporting larger organisms that are, in turn, consumed by shoaling fish. In total the earth’s fishing fleets bring in some 68 million tons a year. Japan, with its intricate network of islands, has an ancient fishing tradition and remains the largest single harvester of the sea.

AVAILABILITY AND FAMINES

If the global harvests were shared out equally, each person could receive 5lbs. (2.3 kgs.) of food per day. Hunger need never be with us.

The reason why famines still take their terrible toll has more to do with the complexities of politics, economics, storage and distribution than with the physical capacity of the earth itself. The planet is fertile. Science has opened up new possibilities. And, in the opinion of many experts the age old scourge of hunger could with global cooperation, be eradicated in the near future.

To meet future needs, we can colonize the world’s inhabitable areas. The earth’s total cultivable land is some 7.9 billion acres, of which less than half is currently being farmed. Although the remainder may be harsh or inaccessible terrain, we have the means to drain swamps, plant hillsides and bring deserts into bloom.

One short term response to starvation in the third world is to transport surplus food from where it is stockpiled to where it is needed. The biggest grain exporters are USA, Canada, Australia and Argentina. Thanks to the green revolution, India, Thailand, Burma and Surinam can now be added to the list of smaller net exporters. Many others for example Mexico and the Soviet Republics would be the net grain exporters but for the demands of live stock, which now consume more grain than grass.

Lakhs of animals are slaughtered on Id-uz-zuha in Haj pilgrimage, only a small part of which would be distributed in earlier days and the rest bull-dozed into the ground, but now it has been made possible to dispatch the surplus meat to starving countries.

In the long term, however the transporting of surplus food does nothing to help farmers in poor countries to produce more. Indeed, pouring cheap food into third world can lower prices there so much that local farmers are put out of business. Except in emergencies, perhaps what poor countries need most is appropriate technology, transport facilities, education and better administration.

One global measure of food production is provided by the average number of calories supplied by the agriculture of different countries. How many calories an individual actually needs depend on his or her body weight, type of activity and the environmental temperature. Accounting for these variables, the FAO of UN estimates the average daily needs of a person in Finland, where a relatively old population lives in a tropical climate; the average is 2,160 calories per day. One must eat what he needs and overeating leads to obesity and other resultant diseases, besides wastage of food.

Wastage of food is prohibited by all. The Holy Quran says: “KULU WASHRABU WALA TUSRIFU”- You may eat and drink but do not cross the limits. A Hakim from Syria stayed for six months in Madina at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBH), but had to leave as no patient visited him. On enquiry, he was told that people fill a third of their stomach with solid food and a third with liquid and leave a third empty. The Hakim concluded that most of the diseases are stomach related, hence the result. Besides there are many instances, when people served the needy and themselves preferred to go hungry.

Here is a lesson for us not to serve excessive food with meat in wazwan resulting into waste that could feed many more starving people. In olden days, sharing food on a plate by four people served with just seven preparations of meat/vegetables would generate no wastage, but the later extravagance and false showmanship with over 20 preparations of meat and chicken has made it a curse in these hard times. The height of things is that we indulge and participate with great interest in these extravagant functions yet simultaneously lamenting and condemning while sharing the wazwan. In this behalf the procedure adopted by Arabs and South Indians is preferable, when they gather around a huge plate full of Biryani etc, and pour their desirable share in their respective plates causing zero wastage. Many people are shifting to buffet service now in Kashmir too which eliminates wastage.

J&K – FOOD DEFICIT STATE:

The Economic Survey 2012-13 reveals that J&K State is a food deficit and consumer state. The state is mostly depended on the import of food grains from other states and that the day-by-day dependence of the state for food grains from outside is increasing. During 2011-12, import and off take of food grains stood at 908.22 and 856.27 thousand metric tones which respectively were 20 per cent and 14 percent more than the previous year.

LAND CONVERSION:

It is also reported that due to random conversion of farm land, the agricultural production is decreasing day by day. While the State Government in 2011 had decided to bring law to ban the conversion of farm land for commercial or non-farm use, the law is yet to see the light of the day. In Kashmir alone more than two lakh kanals of agricultural land of the net sown or cultivated area of 3.5 lakh hectares has been converted for commercial and other purposes. The situation is no better in Jammu. The conversion of farmlands for residential purposes has negative consequences on food security, water supply besides health of the people, both in the cities and in the peripheries. If the conversion of agricultural land continues at the same pace, in coming years the state would have no agricultural land according to an official of SKUAST. Agriculture was the largest land use category in 1971, covering an area of 70.13 per cent of Srinagar district which has been reduced to 48.93 percent in 2009 at an annual rate of -0.79 percent. The maximum conversion has taken place along major transportation corridors around the city, therefore giving rise to ribbon settlements. Presently dozens of colonies are coming up on agriculture land in different parts of the Valley. Even residential houses and restaurants are being constructed on it. The law enforcement agencies need to curb the menace before the problem assumes horrendous proportions.”

FOOD SECURITY BILL

A healthy development has been that the Food Security Bill is being introduced in the current session of Parliament.

The Bill seeks “to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto”.

It extends to the whole of India and “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different States and different provisions of this Act”

 The Bill has three schedules (these can be amended “by notification”). Schedule 1 prescribes issue prices for the PDS. Schedule 2 prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations and related entitlements. For instance, take-home rations for children aged 6 months to 3 years should provide at least 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein. Schedule 3 lists various “provisions for advancing food security”, under three broad headings: (1) revitalization of agriculture (e.g. agrarian reforms, research and development, remunerative prices), (2) procurement, storage and movement of food grains (e.g. decentralized procurement), and (3) other provisions (e.g. drinking water, sanitation, health care, and “adequate pensions” for “senior citizens, persons with disability and single women”).

J&K State has been the pioneer state in providing food rations to urban areas right from Maharaja’s time, which is/was followed by other states.

 A LESSON TO LEARN

We have a lesson to learn from the newly developing cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. These cities are littered with no solid/liquid wastes or polythene; have no noise pollution or dust pollution indoors, no street dogs, no beggars, no uniformed/armed policemen to be sighted. Building laws are strictly followed and every spot is designed and executed as per consultant’s advice with all aesthetic appeal. The cities have developed with 5-lane roads either way with foot paths bedecked with green grass and flowers and palm trees with intermittent irrigation facilities. During the past about four decades, mud huts have got converted to sky scrapers including the world’s tallest building Burji Khalifa. Metro has been introduced for a faster travel. A new city “Masdar” is coming up all based on solar energy banning use of fossil fuels in all devices.

INDIVIDUAL EFFORTS NEEDED

In our homes the compostable solid wastes can be converted into useful compost for kitchen garden by dumping it regularly in a circular pit of one meter diameter and one and a half meter depth, with no lining but covered with a lid. Addition of lime over every foot layer is advisable. This could eliminate the use of harmful chemical compost. Individual efforts can make a big impact and reduce the burden on the Municipal authorities, who have utterly failed to establish a mechanical compost plant in Srinagar city, recommended by UEED three decades back. Similarly construction of a cheaper alternative of twin pit low cost ‘suchalya’ instead of the costly sanitary fitted toilets with septic tank and soakage pit has proved a success story in many cities/ villages of India and in more than 21 UNDP countries. Our rural/urban sanitation needs to adopt this program in a big way

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE (Retd. Chief Engineer)

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EARTH OUR GIFT- EARTH DAY April 22

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  view-The DailyRising Kashmir Srinagar, April 22, 2013- page 07

Earth, our gift

 Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE

April 22 is celebrated as Earth day on international level. Mother earth is a gift of nature, on which we are born, on it our lives are sustained for years together and ultimately we return into it. It calls for our great attention to protect it from all kinds of our disrespect like soil, air, water, noise pollution, otherwise we are bound to perish to be replaced by a more sensible populace.

Madrice F. Strong (Chairman of the Earth Council and the President of the U.N. University for Peace and Secretary General of UNCED) says, that: “The risk we face from the mounting dangers to the environment and life support systems are far greater than the risks we face in conflicts with each other. The dangers of waiting threaten Planet Earth.”

The new millennium we have just entered will decide the fate of human species. The unprecedented increase in human population and in the scale and intensity of human activities over the past century have reached a point where they are impacting on the resource and life support systems on which human life and its well being depend. Our fate is literally in our own hands. The principal determinant to shape our future shall be in what we do or fail to do in managing the process in that direction.

Decisive shall be the first three decades-(the first one is already over)-of the century in setting the direction that will determine the survival or the demise of human life as we know it.

Although science and technology has made it possible to bring to all people of the earth – prosperity, well being and opportunities undreamed of by earlier generations, yet it has also produced a series of deepening environmental and social imbalance which are undermining the basic foundation for a sustainable future.

Changing Attitude to Nature

The negative impacts of the industrial revolution and the increased urbanization which arose from it, led to the development of a number of voluntary associations which were the precursors of the conservation movement and sustainable development which evolved from it.

The insight that humans inflict damage on themselves by damaging nature has become a basic premise of modern environmentalism which emerged as a major and influential movement during the second half of the 20th century.

Air and water pollution, urban blight, desecration of natural resources and undermining of human health and well-being became more widespread and visible. Attention was driven to this direction by great thinkers through their publications. These have helped faster growing public awareness and concern in Industrial countries which led to the decision by the United Nation General Assembly in 1969, on Sweden’s initiative, to hold United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.

Framework for Negotiation

The conference was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 1972. The first of the major Global conferences that have done so much to shape the agenda of the U.N. and the World Community during the past three decades.

It placed the environment issue firmly on the global agenda and provided the political impetus which led to the convening of several other global conferences on related issues: the: Population Conference in Bucharest in 1974 and Cairo in 1994, the Habitat Conference in Vancouver in 1976 and Istanbul in 1996, the Women’s Conference in Mexico city in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980, Nairobi in 1985 and Beijing in 1995 and the Social summit in Copenhagen in 1995. Each of these was patented on the model pioneered by the Stockholm conference most notably in providing for substantial participation on the part of civil society organizations.

The environment issue and the more comprehensive concept of sustainable development which evolved from it, provided a broad framework in which economic, social, population, gender and human settlements issues can be seen in their systemic relationship to each other and are the common thread which links the agendas and the results of each of these conference. In this sense Stockholm was their logical precursor.

The Stockholm Conference clearly brought out the differences between the position of developing and the industrial counties, but did not resolve then. Indeed, the issues of finance and the basis for sharing responsibilities and costs continue to be the principal sources of differences and controversy between the developing and developed countries.

These have become central and International negotiations on virtually every environment and sustainable development subjects notably in respect of the climate change and Biodiversity conventions.

The Stockholm conference led to a proliferation of new environmental initiatives and the creation of the United Nations Environmental programme (UNEP), head-quartered in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as national environmental ministries or agencies in most countries. However, despite progress in many areas it became evident by mid 1980’s that overall environment was deteriorating and the population and economic growth largely responsible for this was continuing. In response, the U.N. General Assembly established a World Commission for environment and Development under the Chairmanship of Norway’s Dr. Gro Harlum Brundlland. Its report “our common future” made the case for sustainable development as the only viable pathway to a secure and sustainable future for the human community.

A Historic Summit

Its recommendations led to the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in Dec. 1989 to hold the U.N. conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). To underscore the importance of the conference, it was decided that it should be held at the summit level and is now known as the Earth Summit.

As an event in itself the UNCED – the Earth Summit RIO-de-Janeiro in 1992 was clearly remarkable, indeed historic. Never before had so many of the world’s political leaders come together in one place and the fact that they came to consider the urgent question of our planets future, put these under an enormous internal spotlight. This was helped by the presence at RIO, both in the conference itself and the accompanying Global Forum, of an unprecedented number of people and organizations representing every sector of civil society, & more than double the number of media representatives that had ever covered a world conference.

The Earth Summit validated the concept of sustainable development which had been articulated by the Bund land commission, not as an end in itself, but as the indispensable means of achieving, in the 21st century, a civilization that is sustainable in economic and social as well as environmental terms.

The Earth Summit also made it clear that sustainability in physical terms can only be achieved through new dimensions of cooperation among the nations and peoples of our planet and most of all a new basis for relationships between rich and poor, both within and among nations.

Despite shortcomings, as the result of compromises made to reach consensus, the agreement reached at the earth summit represent the most comprehensive programme ever agreed to by governments for shaping the human future. The declaration of principles, agreed on at RIO reaffirmed and built on the Stockholm declaration. And the programme of Action, agenda 21 that the conference adopted, presents a detailed, “blueprint” of the measures required to affect the transition to sustainability. The conventions on climate change and Biodiversity, negotiated during preparations for the conference and opened for signatures at it, provided the basis for legal framework for international agreements on two of the most fundamental global environmental issues. In addition, the conference agreed on initiating a negotiating process, which has since produced a Convention on Desertification, an issue of critical importance to a number of developing countries, particularly the countries of sub Saharan Africa which are amongst the world’s poorest.

So far the record is mixed. There have been many positive achievements which demonstrate that the transition to sustainable development call for at RIO is possible. The conventions on climate change. Biodiversity & desertification have come into force, although progress towards agreement as the protocols necessary to give them “Teeth” has been disappointingly slow.

Innovative Mechanism

The Global environment facility, established as a result of the earth summit, as an innovative mechanism for financing the incremental costs of meeting these needs has been notably successful, but its resources are limited. Official Development Assistance has declined and deeply entrenched difference over intellectual property rights, in respect of the biological resources of developing countries has brought negotiations on a Biodiversity convention to a virtual standstill. While at the meeting of the parties to the climate convention in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, agreement was reached on a broad set of targets and timetables for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it now seems evident that most industrial countries will not meet these targets. And there is little sign at present of the degree of public support and political will that will be required to change this.

In the principal countries to which we most look for leadership- The U.S Canada, members of the European Union and Japan- These issues have moved down on the list of priorities. It is not easy to engage the attention of the elite & privileged of these societies on the need for radical changes in the status quo. With the stock markets and executive salaries at record levels, the status quo is all too comfortable for them.

Our environmental future and with it the future of our species will depend primarily on whether or not developing counties notably India, are able to make the transition to a sustainable development pathway. And  this in turn, will depend on what the move industrialized countries do, both to reduce their own, disproportionate impacts on the environment leaving space, for developing countries to grow and by making available to developing countries the additional financial resources and technologies that are required to make the transition to sustainability.

If every one in the world were to adopt the current consumption patterns of the rich nations, an extra three planets like earth would be required to support  them. This is clearly an untenable and unsustainable situation, especially when considered within the context of the evidence at the earth summit. Chapter 4 of Agenda 21. points out, the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, particularly in developed countries.

Potential for Conflict

The 21st century is likely to see the re-emergence of some basic, traditional issues with significant potential for conflicts access to water, food, energy, land, resources and livelihoods. The issue about which we have become dangerously complacent is food security.

Dr. M.S. Swaminathen humanitarian and eminent Indian scientist in his research made the case for a greatly strengthened, cooperative programme of research scientific and policy to ensure that the revolutionary advances in biotechnology, which will radically change traditional patterns of food production and the movement to accord new technologies intellectual property rights, benefit the poor and do not impose on them a new generation of risks and vulnerabilities.

The dichotomies which characterize our global society today are clearly manifest in India, Indians have been in the forefront, at home and abroad, of the technological revolution which is driving the new global economy and positioning India as one of its major players. Yet India continues to wrestle with the problems of deeply entrenched poverty and the challenges of ensuring that its millions of poor and underprivileged share equitably in the benefits of the new economy rather than becoming its victims. In the final analysis, this will be directly relevant to the priority India accords to caring for its own environment and natural capital, its land, air, water, forest, plant and animal life, and the role it plays in the international efforts  to establish an affective system of cooperative management of these issues.

Cooperative Management

The system of cause and effect through which human policies and activities have their impacts on the process that are shaping our future is global in scale and complex in nature. And as significant dimensions of space and time often separate cause and effect, their real consequences are not always readily discernible. The principal challenge faced by our civilization in making the transition to the sustainable way of life is the management of this system. The processes which have given rise to the phenomenon we now call globalization transcends the traditional boundaries of nations, of sectors and disciplines. No nation, however powerful can go it alone, in realizing the principal benefits for its people and safeguarding them from the potential risks and vulnerabilities of globalization. The only real option is to develop a more effective system of managing these issues cooperatively.

The various sectors of civil society have organized themselves around a wide variety of interests and causes on which they have demonstrated, as they did at the W.T.O meeting in Seattle, to mobilize broad support and public opinion on issues about which people feel strongly.

The business community, notably transnational cooperation’s, which today command more economic power and influence than many nations must also have a place at the table when issues in which they are major actors are being resolved. Any effective system for cooperative management of these issues requires the participation and cooperation of these key actors as well.

However due to unwillingness of Governments to address the need of the fundamental restructuring of these institutions, the multilateral organizations, of which the U.N. and its specialized agencies are the centerpiece, are not geared to carry out the new generation of tasks that will be required of them as the instruments of cooperative Governance.

The reluctance of the nations that currently dominate the power structure of the global community to dilute their powers by a more effective and  democratic enfranchisement of the developing country majority is clearly one of the principal reasons why strengthening the multilateral institutions has proven so difficult. This is a reflection of the great divide that still separated the more industrialized from the developing nations and the difficulties that have been encountered in reaching the agreements and affecting the cooperation necessary to move towards global sustainability.

Best Illustration

The environment is the best illustration of the need to bring all key actors into any system of cooperative management of those issues which none can manage alone, if such a system is to be effective. The same is true of other issues that are critical to the common future of humanity. But not all issues need to be dealt with at the Global level and in many cases, the principal global function is to provide the framework, context and legal regime required to initiate actions which can best be taken at the local and regional levels. In fact the principle of solidarity calls for all issues to be dealt with at the level closest to the people concerned where they can be dealt with effectively.

An effective system of Governance at the global level require a legal and institutional framework for cooperative management of those issues which affect fundamentally the prospects for survival and well-being of the whole human community. This means extending into our international life the basic principles of law and justice which provide the foundations for the effective functioning of democratic national societies.

The sum total of the behavior of individuals the main source of human impact on the global environment of which the risks of climate change are a principal manifestation. People’s behavior is driven ultimately by their own principal values and priorities. The changes called for at the Earth Summit in RIO in 1992 were fundamental in nature and will not come quickly or easily. Individuals often believe that they can make little difference in the larger scheme of things. But indeed, without individual change there cannot be social change.

One of the greatest disappointments is the result of the Earth Summit was the inability to obtain agreement in an Earth charter to define a set of basic moral and ethical principles for the conduct of people of nations towards each other and the Earth as the basis for achieving a sustainable way of life on our planet Governments were simply not ready for it. But now the Earth Council has joined with many other organizations around the world to undertake this important piece of unfinished business from RIO through a global campaign designed to stimulate dialogue of a peoples Earth Charter. This is intended to be a compelling and authoritative voice of the world’s people which will ultimately have powerful and possessive influence on Government, hopefully leading to endorsement of the Earth Charter by the U.N.

The 21st century will be decisive for the human species for we are now, in a very real sense, trustees of our own future. The direction of human future will largely set in the 1st. decades of this century. For all the evidence of environmental degradation, social tension and inter-communal conflicts have occurred at levels of population and human activity that are a great deal less than they will be in the period ahead.

The risks we face in common from the mounting dangers to the environment, resource base and life support systems which all life in Earth depends are far greater than the risks we face or have faced in our conflicts with each other. A new paradigm of cooperative global governance is the only feasible basis on which we can manage these risks and realize the immense potential for progress and fulfillment for the entire human family which is within our reach.

The author is Retd. Chief Engineer.

ril 22, 2013 Page 07

UNSAFE ROADS IN J&K STATE

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Unsafe roads

The recent school bus incident raises many questions about our road safety

TRAGEDY

ASHRAF FAZILI

 

The school bus accident at Anantnag, where 11 school children died and many were injured has been another heart rending episode among a chain of road accidents in our state occurring every now and then. Such events are tragic that spell doom on the entire society. Besides collision, it leaves behind distress, sorrow and suffering. Thus adoption of preventive measures against such tragic events is essential. We must identify the causes of such accidents. In order to eradicate this increasing trend of accidents, attention is required. The damage caused by the road accidents is simply irreparable.
Road transport is the primary means of traveling from outside and within the valley. Roads act as the veins and arteries for the flow  and movement of people, goods and other consumables, supporting the business activities in this region. The rail link is going to take some more time to develop and that too shall remain restricted to certain areas only. Roads need be developed to the IRC/ BIS specifications to make traveling safer than it is.
A detailed study needs to be carried out to identify major causes resulting in road accidents on various roads like Jammu-Srinagar-Uri, Srinagar- Leh-Kargil  National Highways, roads connecting Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch etc. and other internal roads of the J&K State. This would help project the rate of growth in the vehicle population in the last about two decades along with the statistics of the road accidents on these roads. The road accident rate in India is among the highest in the world, with at least 1,34,000 killed each year on the roads. The roads are going to become the world’s fifth largest killers by 2030. The poor design of hilly roads in particular in J&K State results in the catastrophe and the one we saw just here.
The target group for this survey should consist of various officials from the state and central government organizations, R&B Department,BEACON and Traffic Department. Officials, motor vehicle associations, service engineers from vehicle dealers, surveyors and loss assessors from various insurance companies etc. from the locality. The factors to be surveyed through a questionnaire could be:  a) Unskilled drivers, b) Drunken drivers, c) Improper Traffic Management System (improper markings on road and bumps), d) Non-compliance and lack of awareness regarding traffic rules, e) Poor road condition. poor geometry/ design f) Unfit vehicles, g) Negligence and careless attitude of pedestrians, h) High vehicle density, i) Over-loaded vehicles, j) Limited road network, k) Fog, rains, snow and slippery frost conditions. While all these factors contribute to road accident in different situations, there are some common factors responsible specifically on certain roads. Another matter of concern has been the unchecked mushroom growth of vehicle population during the last two decades. In this connection easy loans from banks for purchase of vehicles has been a major cause. With increase in number of road accidents (year-wise) number of fatalities has also increased making the situation highly critical and alarming.
I have been witness to a road accident on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in 1965/ 1966, when I was conducting survey of Jammu-Srinagar 133KVA- HVT line on a hill side and a convoy of army vehicles was moving on a hairpin bend of the highway. It was perhaps due to sharp bend, that one vehicle instead of turning went straight down the hill slope and many more vehicles followed him to meet the same fate.
The frequent road accidents during the last few years have taken toll of many lives. Authorities must rise up to the situation so that roads are made safer for public.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili is Retd. Chief Engineer

 

Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time

WORLD WATER DAY 2013

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Water Resources and Ecological Balance

Water Resources and Ecological Balance

Water Resources and Ecological Balance

 

 

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili
Life on earth is made possible by joint venture of Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere and Solar Energy. In the sphere of life called Biosphere, all the organisms are interdependent and each in turn depends upon the physical environment of the area in which they live. In the natural environment there is perfect balance between the various organisms in the biosphere, called ecological balance.

 

 

To maintain the food chain in balance, the small weaker organisms are more numerous and reproduce at a faster rate than the larger and the stronger ones. Under natural conditions also, due to change in physical environment on the earth, during different geological periods, some plant and animal species, which were not able to adapt themselves suitably to the changed environmental circumstances died out. In some cases new species came into existence. This process is continuous one and scientists estimate that 90 percent of all species (both animal and plant) have virtually vanished since life began. However, the rate of extinction has increased considerably since last century. About 20000 plant species and over 1000 animal species are at the verge of extinction. This rapid rate of extinction is not due to natural change but the man is responsible for destroying and transforming the nature.
For the sake of meeting the requirement of his food, fodder, shelter etc., man has dislodged the food chain, the ecological balance by raking and misuse of natural resources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas for power production. Industrialization and transport systems, have further aggravated the situation and created atmospheric and water pollution.
Pollution of water in seas, river, lakes, springs and other water bodies is increasing to abnormal proportions due to effluents, urban waste, use of insecticides and pesticides, etc. Organisms living in water and those dependent on water are sufferers; land resources are mistreated without any remorse. The fertile soil is being wasted and drawn to deep oceans, along with precious water by faulty cultivation, removal of vegetable cover and by the process of mining.
Our strategy must be to formulate answers to these questions through an open dialogue within and beyond the community. Specific activities will include the convening of workshops and open science symposia, preparation of pre-received publications and policy beliefs, assembly and testing of data sets and model inter comparison exercises. Education and capacity building aimed at training the next generation of GWS scientists/ engineers must also be a part of the effort.
Water Management
Human interaction with water has created a global significant impact on the land-based hydrological cycle, its resident biota (all plants and animals in a region) and material transports to the ocean. The humans have begun to affect the Global Water System without adequate understanding of how that system functions. The world’s 45000 dams convey a substantial human signature on continental runoff, with impounded waters increasing seven-fold the storage of water in river channels and tripling the residency time of continental runoff. Improvement likely traps one-third or more of global sediment destined for the world’s coastal zones.
Deforestation is likely to have nearly halved the evaporative power of vegetation on a global scale. DECD countries have destroyed 70 percent of their wetlands. The integrity of aquatic ecosystems is endangered by the management of surrounding unplanned system, such as from poor agricultural practices, which create siltation changes in discharge regime and eutrophication in receiving waters.
Water is a limited resource, which needs to be carefully managed. Its natural abundance, in a region and how it is collected, stored and distributed has a major impact on a country’s economy, determining what crops can be grown and whether there is sufficient to meet domestic and industrial demands. The establishment of some of the first civilizations in the Middle East was due to the inspired use of the Nile floodwater for irrigation.
If water is to be made available on demand all the year round, it needs to be collected and stored. How this is done varies around the world, according to climate and geography in regions of Asia, Tropical Countries, European Temperate Zones, North America, South America, Africa and Australia. Some areas have plentiful water all the year round, some have marginal water in the growing seasons and some have markedly seasonal water supplies and there are constant water deficit areas.
More than 90 percent of world’s water consumption goes to agriculture. Domestic use accounts for less than 3 percent, with only a little more being consumed by industry. The pattern of water use varies in different parts of the world. In the developed world- Western Europe and North America- industry often makes just as much if not more demand on water resources than agriculture.
UNESCO estimates that nearly half the world’s crop production, in terms of value, comes from the irrigated land. Within India, a consciousness of the importance of the subject of water led to the establishment of National Commission of Water Resource Development Plan, which submitted its report in the year 1999.
The annual runoff has been estimated as 1953 cu.kms (including both surface and ground water resources). The annual ‘usable’ water resources of the country are 690 cu.kms of the surface water and 396 cu.kms of ground water making a total of 1086 cu.kms. The present quantum of use is put around 600 cu.kms. The National Commission has come to the conclusion that by 2050 the demand will catch up with the supply. There will be a difficult situation, provided that a number of measures on the demand and supply sides are taken in time.
There are variations in the availability of water in the country depending upon the rainfall period and its intensity. There is a wide range of precipitation from 100 mm in Rajasthan to 11000 mm in Cherranpunji. Sixty percent of water resources of India are to be found in the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers systems, which account for 33 percent of the geographical area of the country, 11 percent in the West flowing rivers south of Tapti covering 3 percent of the area and the balance 29 percent in the remaining river system spread over 64 percent of the land area.
The Himalayan rivers are snow fed and perennial, whereas the peninsular rivers are dependent on the monsoons and therefore seasonal. Again the North and the East are well endowed with water, whereas the West and the South are water short. Besides desert areas of Rajasthan, there are drought prone areas in parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnatka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and the eastern parts of the country experience devastating floods from time to time.
Various solutions have been suggested for storing and transfers from surplus areas to water short areas. Gravity link canals and tapping of rivers continues to haunt the minds of water planners. Interlinking of rivers like Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna, the Punnar and the Cauvery is under consideration despite opposition of the concerned states.
The National Commission talks about demand, management economy in water use, resource conservation, etc., and local harvesting and water shed development projects which are regarded as the primary answer to the future needs of a growing population, besides financing of the projects and the contributing role of private sector participation in the massive effort envisaged.
There seems to be wide spread agreement on the regional, national and international level that:
a) Considering the projected water needs of the future, an important part of the answer lies in the water Resource Development Projects.
b) The financial constraints and managerial limitations of Government, a significant part of that development will have to come from the Private Sector.
Numbers of projects are envisaged for hydro electricity and irrigation and flood moderation in some cases in Nepal, Karnali, Pancheswar, Sepatakosi. Bangladesh being interested in these and other projects in Nepal from the point of view of augmenting the lean season flows of the Ganga. In India the Tehri Hydroelectric Project in Himalayas is being built despite opposition. Several projects have been formulated in Brahmaputra, besides the idea of transfer of waters from Brahmaputra is still live. In Bhutan, Mamas and Sankosh projects are to come up. In Tripura, the Tipaimukh project in Magna/Barak has been proposed. On the Teesta, a tributary of Brahmaputra, both India and Bangladesh have built barrages and overcome inadequacy of water, the idea of building a dam has been mooted.
The NWDA has been studying the possibility of transfer of waters from the Mahanadi to Godavari and thence to Krishna, the Pennar and the Cauvery involving building of a number of dams and links. The idea of transfer from the Himalayan rivers to the Peninsular rivers is also on the anvil. The state governments of Maharashtra, Karnatka and Andhra Pradesh may embark on many projects, with a view to establishing or improving their respective claims under the Awards of Tribunals on the shared rivers. On the Narmada, apart from the major projects (Sardar Sorovar, Narmada Sagar), a host of other projects, big and small are envisaged in the over all plan. Finally there is the idea of diversion of some West flowing peninsular rivers eastwards. In J&K State long term perspective of utilization of water resources have to be:
(a) To irrigate remaining areas within the Indus Water Treaty limits in Leh, Kargil, Jammu & Kashmir Divisions.
(b) To have water harvesting moisture/soil retention measures to make the barren hill slopes productive.
(c) To exploit identified hydro potential of 9935 MW in entire State.
However not many of these projects are likely to materialize due to financial constraints and strong opposition to the projects. Assuming most of these materializing, there will be an additional irrigation potential and consequent enhancement of agricultural production, some flood moderation and possibly an addition to navigation facilities
There will also be adverse impacts (environmental, social and human) and there can be no assurance that the benefit will outweigh their costs. Even if the gain will exceed costs, the totality of the project taken together will constitute a massive onslaught on nature.
In spite of all these advantages, it is established that future needs cannot be met without massive “Water Resource Development” that is large storage (dam and reservoir) projects, local rainwater harvesting and water shed development, for which a major push needs to be given to these activities. The need for large projects can be minimized (if not eliminated) and the environmental, social and human impacts will be correspondingly reduced.

The author is retired Chief Engineer and can be mailed at shahishaharyar@gmail.com