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.

Contribution of World-Class Engineers


46th Engineers day – September 15, 2014


World-Class Engineers are:

Solidly grounded in fundamentals of their discipline and are committed to lifelong learning.

Technically Broad :  Conversant in multiple technical disciplines. They design solutions that span business functions such as finance, marketing, legal, and manufacturing.

Globally Engaged : Understand the worldwide nature of their profession and are sensitive to the speed required to keep pace in geographically and culturally diverse environments.

Ethical: Uphold the highest ethical standards. They readily identify, and carefully address, ethical issues that arise in their professional lives.

Innovative: Develop precise definitions of complex problems and formulate sustainable solutions by thinking creatively across technical, business, social, and environmental dimensions.

Excellent Collaborators: Seek optimal outcomes through collaboration and honor intellectual property rights of all partners. They work effectively within co-located and geographically dispersed teams.

Visionary Leaders Are courageous, customer-oriented leaders who develop visions that deliver successful results.


It is a fact that from the earliest times, the engineers, who remained the harbinger of development of any region, always strived for enrichment of their knowledge and skill to upgrade the quality of life and their performance. The pursuit for betterment is a continuous process. There is no end to development and engineering progress. The process of up gradation from one standard to the other, from one age to other, from ‘under-developed’ to ‘developing’, or from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’, is a continuous process, which is led by the engineers after taking into account the prevailing socio- politico-economic conditions of the particular country.


From the archival discoveries it is revealed that it has taken thousands of years for man to reach the present state.


The Prehistoric World: 100,000-40,000 years ago.

The first modern humans emerged in Africa 100,000 years ago. Over the next 50,000 years they colonized much of Asia and Australasia before expanding into Europe. New skills were acquired at different rates in different regions but the landmarks of development followed a similar pattern from simple stone blades to sophisticated iron jewellery. The different ages witnessed various stages of development such as:


Stone Age: Upper Plaeolithic – 40,000-10,000 years ago.

Early humans were already expert flint workers by the upper Plaeolithic period and weapons have been found at sites in Europe and the Near East. Typical features included:

  • Stone spear heads, arrow heads and blades;
  • Bone and ivory tools and weapons, (fish hooks, needles and spear throwers);
  • Jewellery and clothing made of skins sewn using bone needles;
  • The ceremonial burial of the dead;
  • Cave art and statues.


Neolithic- from 12000 years ago.

The later Stone Age saw the development of farming which replaced hunter gathering as the primary mode of existence. By the end of the Neolithic, humans had learned to cultivate many crops: wheat and barley in the Near East, rice in China and potatoes in South America. Farming created surpluses, allowing population growth and establish permanent settlements. Other features of the period include:

  • The domestication of the animals (by 6000 BC in China and Mesopotamia);
  • New tools like axes to clear forests and bring new lands under cultivation, hoes, sickles and grindstones;
  • The use of pottery to store grain;
  • The construction of earliest villages and towns often surrounded by walls to coral livestock;
  • Tombs built of stones.


The Metal Age:

Bronze Agefrom 3000 BC:

  • Copper and bronze tools and weapons (spearheads, arrowheads, chisels, saws);
  • Practice of trade throughout Europe;
  • Early mines and ore extraction methods;
  • High standard for craftsmanship (jewellery, statues, decoration);
  • Creation of stone alignments.


Iron Age: The Hitites of Anatolia made iron weapons between 2000 and 1200 BC. Iron working spread to Greece in about 1000 BC. It had advantage over bronze as it gave sharper, harder wearing edge; no combination with other metal needed; supplies were plentiful; used for nails, tools, weapons, casting utensils, jewellery and also for religious articles. European Iron Age ended with Roman Empire. There was no Iron Age in Americas, where iron was introduced by European colonists.


Dawn of History: Civilization is closely linked to the rise of cities. Urban life emerged as agriculture started to support artisans, traders, government and organized religion as well as people living in the land. From about 3000 BC, cities grew up on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia (Between the rivers), part of the ‘Fertile Crescent’. They were independent city-states at first, then part of empires. At the same time Egypt grew in power, and the eastern Mediterranean became a crossroads for traders and empire-builders.


Ancient Greece: The essential characteristics of European culture and civilization were forged in Greece, which became dominant force in the Mediterranean for 400 years before Alexander the Great briefly created one of the Largest Empires of the ancient world, spreading Greek (Hellenistic) culture to Egypt and deep into Asia.


Ancient Rome: Rome flourished for about 800 years, developing a technically advanced and sophisticated society, not seen again in the Western world until the 16th century. The early Roman state was a republic, ruled by a senate of leading citizens with elected magistrates or consuls. Despite frequent mismanagement, Rome sustained the empire for 400 years.


The Making of Europe: The collapse of Roman world left a mosaic of competing kingdoms in Europe. But most of the Germanic tribes were highly Romanized, had fought for Romans as mercenaries and had adopted their Christian religion. The changes they brought about were often more evolutionary than sudden. It was a time of turmoil, but out of the turmoil emerged new peoples and powers- and a new stage of European history.


Christianity: Within a few years after Christ, Jesus’ message spread beyond the Jews and grew into a cult stretching across the Roman Empire. When the Empire collapsed, the Western church presented much to learning and traditions of Rome, eventually becoming the dominant force of the medieval world.


The rise of Islam: In AD 610 after a series of revelations the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) founded a religion based on faith in a single God, clear social rules and the promise of afterlife. Arab conquests quickly spread Islam through south-west Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Christian Europe was hostile to Islam but later benefited from the preservation of Greek culture, and the scientific and medical knowledge of Arab Muslims. Islam gave unprecedented impetus to the intellectual development of the human race and that early Muslims held high the torch of light and learning at a time when the whole world was immersed in ignorance and barbarity. Islam furthered the cause of science. Modern science owes its origin to Islam and modern progress is the outcome of the freedom of thought and spirit of enquiry proscribed for Muslims by the Holy Quran, and not a product of Christianity which for a long time relentlessly proscribed all free thinking and liberal reasoning and even scientific researches on original lines, and horribly persecuted all those who indulged in these. Muslims laid the foundation of Physical Sciences. Western Civilization is the direct offspring of Arab Civilization in Spain. The very Renaissance was brought about by the impact of Islamic culture and learning. All the knowledge, whether of Astronomy, Mathematics, Architecture, Physics, Medicine, History, Geography, Alchemy and Algebra, Modern Chemistry, Political Economy, Sociology, Zoology, Geology, Botany, Navigation, Agriculture, Irrigation, Gardening, Statistics, Chronology, Topography,  even Aviation or Philosophy of which the Europeans later made themselves masters, originally derived from the Saracenic schools.


The Middle Ages: Around 1000 AD. Europe was divided among many monarchs and regional lords whose authority over their territories varied greatly. Trade expanded, towns grew and won autonomy, craftsmen formed guilds, and universities were founded. Writers such as Dante and Chaucer produced masterpieces, and massive cathedrals were built to assert belief in the power of the divine order.


India: There was a flourishing civilization in Indus valley by 2500 BC. Repeated invasions from Central Asia brought a succession of empires, influenced by first Hinduism and Buddhism and then by Islam. The last of these was Mughal Empire. But India’s wealth and sophisticated economy continued to attract both trade and military invasion from the east as well as the west- most spectacularly of the British Raj.

Kashmir has the distinction of being the only place in the world that has a recorded history for the past about 5000 years. According to Rajtarangni kingship was established here right in 12th century BC itself.


China and Japan: For most of the world history, China was the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Until the 19th century, it remained almost self-sufficient, amassing huge national wealth by exporting silk, spices and (later) porcelain. Japan remained culturally in the shadow of its powerful neighbor for many centuries, but was equally insular and self-reliant.


Africa: The vast scale and the natural wealth of Africa are matched by a diversity and richness of culture. From the 1000 year kingdom of Meroe in southern Egypt to the fabulous wealth of the West African Gold Coast to the mysterious builders of great Zimbabwe, African people traded, worshipped and built empires across a vast continent. Arabs arrived from 7th century and Europeans from the 15thfirst in search of trade, then as settlers, farmers and adventurers drawn by tales of minerals, gems and gold.


Ancient America: The people of ancient America developed distinctive civilizations in almost total isolation from the rest of the world. In Mexico, Central America and the Andes, farming peoples created complex urban societies centered on religious cults. Their cultures spread to the hunting and farming societies of North America. All these cultures were destroyed after the arrival of Europeans in 1942.


The Renaissance: In 14th century a new mood of enquiry stirred in Italy, and spread across Europe. Inspired by rediscovery of classical learning by Arabs, scholars and artists began to reappraise the world and it took 200 years for the transition from medieval world to a modern one.


The age of exploration: In 15th century, improvement in shipping and a demand for Far Eastern silks and spices led European navigators to explore new waters. The Portuguese followed Arabs and worked around Africa to India and beyond, while Columbus crossed the Atlantic. The whole world was now open to European exploration, trade and settlement.


This was followed by clash of faiths between Catholics and Protestants in 16th century, in which lakhs of people were caught up in the struggle between the two faiths. Next the world witnessed the age of kings followed by European turmoil, creation of USA, the industrial revolution in 18th and 19th centuries, formation of new nations and empires in 19th century, world war I, Russian revolution, World war II, end of empire, The Cold war, The New world order in 20th century.


Landmarks of Civilization: These emerged in the Fertile Crescent after 10,000 BC.

  • Cities: Some of the oldest cities were found in the Middle East such as Jericho-8350 BC, Catal Hayuku in Anatolia –the largest city in the world 6250-5400 BC.
  • Wheel: It started off in Mesopotamia in 3500 BC as a potter’s tool and was used for vehicles after 3500 BC.
  • Legal system: Hamurabi (1792-1750 BC) king of Babylon codified the oldest known laws. The Jewish Torah dates from 4th century BC.
  • Writing: Around 3300 BC –the Sumerians developed one of the earliest writing system- a picture based script called cuneiform, impressed on clay tablets. In 1100 BC Phoenicians created a sound based alphabet later the basis of all modern European scripts.
  • Mathematics: The number system of Mesopotamia gave us the 60 minute hour and 360 degree circle. The Arabic numerals with Indian zero was a great leap forward in this direction.
  • Monotheism: Belief in a single all powerful God was a key feature of Judaism and later of both Christianity and Islam.


Scientific Thinkers: The search for a framework of knowledge about the world around began with the theorizing of ancient philosophers. By the 17th century, experimentation and observation were the preferred tools of deduction. In both approaches, progress has relied on a few exceptionally creative thinkers. Progress was made in the fields of  mathematics, matter and energy, earth sciences, cosmology, life sciences and arts, photography, architecture, furniture, classical and popular music, dance, literature, drama, cinema, printing, newspapers, radio, television, fashion, food, games, road transport, trains, steamships, navigation, aviation, space travel, information technology, energy consumption, fossil fuels, nuclear power, renewable energy, mineral resources, electricity and magnetism, radioactivity, chemistry, archaeology, everyday inventions, telecommunications, computer technology, digital communications, the internet, modern medicine, civil engineering, age of armour, nuclear age etc. In all these fields engineers have played a key role. The pace of development in the past few decades has been much faster than ever before and the future poses more drastic challenges due to population explosion and limited available resources.

Thus Engineers are key figures in the material progress of the world as rightly portrayed in today’s theme of the seminar.. A world-class engineer, regardless of the job he is engaged in, is always considered an asset to the nation and the society; as it is he who makes a reality of the potential value of science by translating scientific knowledge into tools, resources, energy, and labour to bring science into the service of the country.

It is a challenge to conclude about the class to which the engineers of India belong. In the diversified, heterogeneous nature of development in our country, the engineers have to work from construction of rural roads to manufacturing of spaceships to Mars. Both are equally important for accelerating the development of the country. There is no scope to undermine the contemporary skill and knowledge of the engineers of our country. It is a matter of pride that Indian engineers, whether working in the country or outside, are a force to reckon with globally.

There is a gap of development in the developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. However the lessons learnt from the experiences in the developed countries can be utilized in the development of the developing and the under developed countries. It was recently in the media that vertical expansion of the cities have not found favour in developed countries, and it was suggested to go in for the smart cities, which may also be suitable for the future development of Srinagar city Master Plan.


I have personally witnessed the excellent contribution of world class consultants and engineers besides the Indian engineers in the development of the modern cities in UAE and had an opportunity to attend the Infrastructure Arabia Summit conference  alongside World eco-consult, 22-25 April 2012 Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), extracts of which have been published by me in my book “Environment in Jammu & Kashmir” under the heading: “Building a sustainable framework for the Middle East compared to J&K State”. Besides, American visitors expressed their opinion that the newly developed twin cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are far superior to the age-old developed American cities. One finds a marked difference between the huge steel sections of Indira Gandhi International airport and  the aesthetically designed sections of Dubai airport. Similarly we find every road curve, foot path, signaling system, electric installations etc. strictly according to the prescribed engineering standards as against our constructions in J&K State, violating all norms without any consultancy or quality control. However the knowledge, skill, and wisdom of Indian engineers are no less than that of their counterparts from other so-called “advanced” countries. Due to the socio-politico-economic structure of our country, engineering is still very much labour-intensive. Unlike in other parts of the developed world, Indian engineers are quite capable of blending the modern mechanized systems with prevailing traditional human-oriented activities.


As rightly said, that it does not mean that the pursuit for self-enrichment by Indian engineers will not be perceived. India requires large numbers of qualified and competent engineers to address the numerous challenges faced in the developmental journey. To produce large numbers of competent engineering and technical personnel to take on the global challenges, India will need to complete the following activities to transform the curriculum for training and skill up gradation:


  1. i) Generate awareness about the global nature of the profession, in-tune with      growing challenges and opportunities – In this connection as seeing is believing, exposure of engineers to the problems could be achieved by arranging their tours to the developed and the developing countries.
  2. ii) Develop a comprehensive understanding in the respective engineering discipline to tackle complex, real-world problems.–One need to keep abreast with the current challenges of engineering issues through modern information technology and enrolling as members of the national and international societies of engineers.

iii)                Accept challenges and solve them with wisdom and shared knowledge  — Our engineers are equally competent to take challenges and find their solutions if given the opportunity.

  1. iv) Acquire knowledge and expertise through lifelong education and continuous learning – In the present age of developed information technology this has become easier than before. Besides participation in seminars helps exchange of thoughts and knowledge.
  2. v) Build familiarity in other engineering and scientific disciplines so that interdisciplinary solution approaches can be evolved.—Holding of interdisciplinary seminars, participation, interaction and exchange of thoughts can be of great help in this direction.
  3. vi) Pursue opportunities to apply skills in both traditional and non-traditional fields to address societal challenges — Our engineers are quite competent to undertake this task provided given the opportunity.

vii)              Communicate and interact with other highly recognized international leaders in engineering,  (again present facilities are far better for this job) and

viii)             Establish themselves as personalities with ethical and noble values—This is most important aspect for which moral education right from the school days needs to be stressed. In earlier days, there used to be taught to children the stories with moral endings like Shaikh Sadi’s  Karima Nami Haq, Gulistan, Bostan, Moulana Rumi’s Masnavi and also Ikhlaq-i-Mohsini etc. that would remain inscribed in the child’s mind all along his life and would help to build his character. This aspect has been ignored in the modern education system and that is why we are confronted nowadays with moral degradation around us.


It is rightly said that achieving excellence is a journey that needs considerable effort. It requires a transition from a reactive, compliance-based approach to a proactive, contributory and value-add mindset to create an environment of sustained operational progress. Over the long-term, it is hoped that the world-class engineers will create a set of approaches and best-practices that will improve tomorrow’s world, create long-term value, and institutionalize business sustainability.


It is engineers who have contributed their bit in creation of world wonders in the past and the process is on with achievement of new discoveries in different branches of science and technology. Right from making of a needle to the creation of spaceship engineering is involved at every step. It is only when blood and sweat is put together that a wonder comes into being. As Dr Iqbal rightly said:


                      نغمہ ہے سوداۓ خام خون جگر کے بغیر                                                                        نقش ہیں ناتمام خون جگر کے بغیر        


  1. Facts at your fingertips-Reader’s Digest.
  2. Islam’s contribution to Science and Civilization- Maulvi Abdul Karim.
  3. Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia



Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The classic seven wonders were:

Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of AlexandriaThe only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Lists from other eras:

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some writers wrote their own lists with names such as Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind, and Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages.

Stonehenge, Colosseum, Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, Great Wall of China, Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, Hagia Sophia, Leaning Tower of Pisa

Other sites sometimes included on such lists:

Taj Mahal, Cairo Citadel, Ely Cathedral, Cluny Abbey

Recent lists:Following in the tradition of the classical list, modern people and organizations have made their own lists of wonderful things ancient and modern. Some of the most notable lists are presented below.

American Society of Civil Engineers:In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of Seven Wonders of the Modern World, paying tribute to the “greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century”:

Wonder Date started Date finished Location
Channel Tunnel December 1, 1987 May 6, 1994 Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and France
CN Tower February 6, 1973 June 26, 1976, tallest freestanding structure in the world 1976–2007. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Empire State Building January 22, 1930 May 1, 1931, Tallest structure in the world 1931–1967. First building with 100+ stories. New York, NY, U.S.
Golden Gate Bridge January 5, 1933 May 27, 1937 Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S.
Itaipu Dam January 1970 May 5, 1984 Paraná River, between Brazil andParaguay
Delta Works/Zuiderzee Works 1920 May 10, 1997 Netherlands
Panama Canal January 1, 1880 January 7, 1914 Isthmus of Panama


New7Wonders Foundation:


Wonder Date of construction Location
Great Wall of China Since 7th century BC[16] China
  1. 100 BC
Christ the Redeemer Opened October 12, 1931 Brazil
Machu Picchu
  1. AD 1450
Chichen Itza
  1. AD 600
Colosseum Completed AD 80 Italy
Taj Mahal Completed c. AD 1648 India
Great Pyramid of Giza (Honorary Candidate) Completed c. 2560 BC Egypt


Top 10 Engineering  wonders of the modern world:


  1. Pearl Bridge Japan – Longest suspension bridge-central span 6532 ft. – completed 1998
  2. Millau Viaduct — Tallest cable stayed bridge – France- ht. 343 mts.- completed 2004
  3. USS George H.W.Bush (CVN 77)- world’s largest warship-100,000 Mts.-comp—2009
  4. North European offshore gas pipeline-Russia to Germany—1,222 kms. long 2011-2012
  5. Beijing National Stadium China- world’s largest steel structure – used in 2008 Olympics
  6. Bailong Elevator China- world’s highest and longest glass elevator-330 mts. High-2002
  7. Palm Islands Dubai-world’s biggest artificial islands- 1500 villas – on artificial beaches
  8. Euro Tunnel- England to France- underwater -31 miles long, 23 of which is in sea.
  9. Three Gorges Dam China- Hydroelectric dam on Yangtze River-22,500 MW- com.2008
  10. Pan-STARRS-for Panaromic Survey & Rapid Response System- see galaxy ever better.




Eat, but don’t waste

Let us all ponder over the theme of this year’s Environment Day


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.
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.
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 with no wastage, but the today’s extravagance 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 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.
Author is Retd. Chief Engineer. Reach him at



The Flood Fury of 2014 in Kashmir


The Flood Fury of 2014.
It is said that, ‘Floods are acts of God, but acts of man cause flood damage’. The recent floods of Kashmir Valley are a testimony to this fact. The Holy Quran states:
“We sent Noah to the people …. (With a message)
But they rejected him
And We delivered him and those with him
In the Ark
But We overwhelmed
In the Flood those
Who rejected Our Signs
They were indeed
A blind people!” (7:59-64)
Noah’s warning was rejected by his generation and they were destroyed in the Flood. (C. 85)
The formation of Satisar is also reported to be a remnant of Noah’s deluge. The Japanese scholars have recently expressed high regards for Kashmir as according to them it is the first land-mass to emerge after the floods of Prophet Noah (called Manu) receded. Lawrence quotes in his Valley of Kashmir that it is said that where the Wullar rests there was a great and a wicked city which was swallowed up by an earthquake, and the floods completed its destruction. The meaning of the word ‘Wullar’ is cave and the legends say that the remains of the wicked city have been seen by the boatmen. The formation of Dal Lake is also ascribed to the flooding of Talni Marg during the reign of Raja Parvarsen in sixth century AD, who constructed an embankment from Rainawari to Dalgate (now a road) to block the drainage of the newly formed lake. The Valley witnessed again major flood in 879 AD in the reign of king Awantiwarman, when the low-lying areas of the Valley were flooded due to blockade of river Jhelum down below Varmul and Er. Suya devised an ingenious method of removing the blockade by dropping gold coins in the river bed, which resulted into the clearance of debris by local divers followed by release of dammed up waters to push the blockade downstream. “The flood of 1893 was a great calamity, but it had the good effect of warning the State that the valuable house property in Srinagar was inadequately protected. The protection works were taken in hand but at the same time, it was apprehended that the security of city means loss to cultivation on the banks of the river above Srinagar. The more Srinagar is protected the more obstruction there will be to passage of waters from south through the city. Thus, the founders of Srinagar have bequeathed a serious engineering problem to their successors”, says Lawrence. In 1959 floods, with almost equal discharge as of today, there has not been such a colossal damage as the pressure on the river was decreased first by allowing inundation of flood plains through Kandizal breach besides catering of one third of discharge by flood spill channel and also allowing a part of discharge to flow into Dal Lake, where water level was maintained lower than the present one, thus saving the city from inundation. In addition colonies had not come up at the low-lying areas of Rajbagh, Jawahirnagar, Mahjoor Nagar and Bemina etc., which formed flood lungs in emergencies. The Master Plan 2000-2021 describes that river Jhelum and its diversion channels namely Tsunti Khul, Kuta Khul, Soner Khul and Watel Khul were navigational per-se. These water courses contributed to a large extent to the environment, trade and water transport and helped to carrying down substantial volume of discharge during floods. Incidentally the proposed mechanized water transport on river Jhelum would have proved a great savior in the recent crisis. “Water transport on the water courses has dwindled for the reason that over a period of time cross sections of river and khuls have squeezed, beds have risen and draft dropped down due to heavy siltation. The banks of the river and khuls have been mis-used by the public and encroached upon”, says Lawrence.. Several recommendations have been made regarding reviving the carrying capacities of the river and the adjoining streams, but no action was taken till date despite passage of fourteen years of the city’s Master Plan period. It was a practice to mark with paint the HFL (Highest flood level) on the walls of important Govt. buildings to serve as a reference mark for raising the plinths of future constructions at least one meter higher than the HFL. It is high time that this practice is revived marking the current HFL for future guidance.
The recent flash floods have left many lessons for us to take care for future development. The chronological order of events that were reported in the media was as under:
01. Heavy rains lashed Jammu& Kashmir including summer capital Srinagar for the second consecutive day Wednesday triggering flood threat across the Valley. Water level at Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar 12 ft., six notches below danger mark; water level at Sangam Anantnag 21 ft., two notches below danger mark. Met. Deptt. forecast moderate to heavy rains to lash Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions till Saturday morning. (GK Sept. 3rd. 2014)
02. Flood threat looms over Kashmir. (GK Sept. 4th.)
03. Kashmir floods throw life out of gear, several areas inundated, many structures damaged. CM reviews situation. Flood alert sounded. Water level in Jhelum touches record level of 31 ft. The discharge of Jhelum was 70,000 cusecs against normal discharge of 25,000 cusecs. A breach occurred at Kandizal area of Budgam. Authorities asked people living in flood-prone areas and embankments of rivers and streams to shift to safer areas. More rains forecast on Friday. Flood waters breached many embankments in many low-lying areas in Kashmir including Srinagar, forcing people to move to safer places. Jhelum River crossed 30 ft. mark at Sangam in Anantnag-7 ft. above danger mark. It touched 21.8 ft against the danger mark of 18 ft. at Ram Munshi Bagh. Rains inundate city center, residential colonies.
Met Deptt. said, “though September is not a rainy season for Kashmir, but due to under-development of favourable weather system, there had been wide-spread heavy rain in past as well. One such year after 1980 was 1992 (September) when most parts of Kashmir received heavy rains apart from Sept. 1988 in Jammu region. In future also we cannot rule out heavy rainfall in September”.
Srinagar received 88 mm. rain, Qazigund 286 mm.,Pahalgam 115 mm.,Kupwara 61 mm.,Kukarnag 219 mm., Jammu 107 mm., Banihal 248 mm.,Katra 158 mm., Badarwah 165 mm. and Gulmarg 139 mm. in past two days. Roads got damaged bridges washed away, villages got flooded in Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal, Baramulla. National Highway closed. Educational institutions closed. Marriage invitations cancelled. CM reviews situation.
People helpless, Government sleepless. Doodganga bunds breached. Bone & Joint Hospital and residential colonies inundated. Bund breaches not plugged at Rawalpora, Peerbagh, Natipora, Chanapora. (GK Sept. 5th.)
Telephones, Mobile phones, internet, Radio Kashmir, DD Kashir, electricity supply, water supply snapped. Press enclave submerged.
04. Flood fury, death toll 248. Twenty five bodies recovered from Srinagar. Doctors send alarm of epidemic. As floods recede, administration yet to come out of debris. Fear of dead bodies keeps people away from Jawahirnagar, locals complain of tardy dewatering. GK resumes publication after ten days.
05. Kashmir economy down by a trillion. Damage to infrastructure 100,000 cr. Houses either fully or partially damaged 300,000. Flood affected villages in Kashmir-1700, in Jammu 900. Roads damaged 12,553. Mobile and Internet not restored. Flooded Dal Lake tells its own tale of destruction, Lake dotted with ravaged houseboats, scary boat-wallas, reopening of civil secretariat proves damp squib. (GK Sept. 19th)
06. Toll mounts to 280. HC seeks Govt. response on ‘tardy’ relief measures. NGO’s, Bill Gates announce relief for J&K floods. (GK Sept. 20th)
07. Day 14- Civil lines still submerged. Lal Chowk once a buzzing market turns into ghost- street. Scourging floods spawn tales of youth valor. (GK Sept. 21st)
08. 13 patients lost their lives as Govt. abandoned SMHS Hospital. Deluge destroyed Radiology Deptt., Medical ICU, ENT, Ophthamological facilities, Diagnostic labs etc.
Day 15-Thousands still out of their homes. Kashmir confronted devastating deluge with unity, compassion- uninterrupted relief, rescuers poured in from untouched areas. (GK Sept.22nd)
09. Day 16- Srinagar areas remain inundated. Kashmir inc cries criminal negligence demands probe. Deepening of river bed saved Ganderbal. Down town brave hearted rescued 300 people from flooded Lal Ded Hospital. (GK Sept.23rd)
10. Day 17- crises mounts in flood hit Srinagar. People fume as dewatering goes on at sluggish pace. Dewatering process goes awry, thanks to official apathy. CM meets PM demands special rehab package. (GK Sept. 24th)
11. Now JK seeks outside help to pump out flood water. SC panel to ascertain situation. 9 brave hearts, 2 boats and one rescue mission. Pampore youth brave flood fury to save 2000 people in 3 days. Daharmuna swimmers saved 400 people in deluged Bemina. Volunteers executed 3-day operation with precision, rescued policemen, kids. (GK Sept.25th)
12. Prices of essentials sky rocket after floods. Govt. likely to submit loss memo to GOI by weekend. Water filters donated by Oxfam India struck in red-tape. Relief material unlikely to reach needy in view of hurdles created by J&K Govt. (GK Sept. 26th)
13. Devastating deluge- 12 lakh families hit in J&K. Kashmir boys extend helping hand from Bangalore to flood victims. (GK Sept. 28th)
14. Centre preparing comprehensive policy on Kashmir: Rajnath Singh. Pune’s offer to help clean Srinagar found no takers. We offered support, were told to wait: Commissioner. Flood ravages JK’s road infrastructure, Estimated damage Rs.1427 cr.
15. Kashmir Floods- a disaster of international magnitude. Govt. clueless how Srinagar sank. Babus surface to defend cornered Govt. J&K inadequately prepared for floods. Flood havoc –PIL seeks probe into official negligence.
16. Many more events got unnoticed or unreported in the media, a few instances are as:
i) Mr. Showkat a teacher in Fine Arts received an SMS at his home at Rainawari that flood waters in Jhelum have reached Rajbagh area. He rushed in a boat to save his wife and one month old son and his parents-in-law from Rajbagh locality. He rowed his boat over the bund along the current, boarded his family and others in the boat and rowed back now against the current, which was an uphill task for him. He saw three persons carried by the current near the bund and two persons drowned near the fountain outside Radio Kashmir building. Helplessly he could not save them. He saw a houseboat had been carried by the current upto TAO Café on the Residency road.
ii) Two officers of high profile along with their families were found rushing to airport in a motorboat, but got struck with an iron rod damaging the boat and were saved by a local of the area.
iii) A relative of ours under treatment was short of oxygen and was carried to SKIMS, thus his family escaped the wrath of floods, but he himself passed away, besides his house at Jawahirnagar crumbled down.
iv) Another relative on dialysis had to be lifted along with his family on a helicopter to carry him to Delhi for safety.
v) Another promising boy who had invested everything in his business and owned a shop at Sangarmal shopping complex lost everything. Like that there must be innumerable happenings that got unreported.
vi) A family in Bemina lost their earning hand a few months back in a slip in his house, survived by a handicapped boy of 14 years, two small daughters, old aged mother-in-law and the ill-fated wife. They resided in a single storeyed house that got submerged and they shifted to the roof slab. Somehow they were rescued and walked over a kilometer up to Iqbal memorial crossing. They were provided shelter in a nearby two storey house, water followed them there too. Somehow after a great struggle they could be rescued after five days.
Thus it is evident from above that both the public as well as Govt. were caught unawares in the flash floods who never expected such an unprecedented wrath of flood waters. But the people charged with the task of flood protection, establishment of round the clock control room, organizing of yearly flood rehearsals, ensuring of alternative wireless communications, engineering the preparedness of the disaster management, ensuring instant relief measures, etc. cannot be absolved of their responsibilities. In fact Govt. is supposed to foresee and plan ahead for the upcoming events.
However it is but natural for water to overflow its banks in the event of rainfall in its upper catchment and spill into flood plains which are basically its right of way. Extensive and often unplanned use of flood plains, disregarding the basic fact, that it is a part and parcel of the river, leads to flood damage. Thus the uncontrolled and indiscriminate development of flood plains due to pressure of population can be considered as one of the main factors responsible for the ever increasing flood damage reported from the different parts of the country in spite of the substantial investment in the flood-sector during the last six decades.
Due to financial constraints no flood control structure can be constructed to provide total or absolute protection against all conceivable magnitude of floods. Moreover not all “flood prone” areas are amenable to protection through conventional flood-control measures due to a variety of reasons. For details and subjects of Flood Management, Concept of Flood Plain Zoning, Broad Methodology, Attempts in the past, Flood forecasting, Flood warning and the Valley Scenario, Engineering preparedness for disaster mitigation etc. please consult my book “Environment in Jammu & Kashmir” published in 2013 by M/S Gulshan Books Srinagar.
Er. Ashraf Fazili (Retd. Chief Engineer)

2014- Major Flood in Kashmir after over half a century


2014-  Major Flood in Kashmir after over half a century

In 1959 I, along with my six colleagues had to travel to Madras for joining our Degree engineering courses for which we were selected by Public Service Commission. The valley was passing through a major flood, due to several days of incessant rains, as at present and road communication to Jammu was cut off. We chose to fly, but the sky was so densely overcast with clouds that the Dakota plane could not take off for seven consecutive days and we used to report at the airport everyday and return disappointed, after having a lunch carried from our homes. It was on the eighth day that the pilot found some gap in the clouds and we had a bumpy flight and touched the Pathankot air port to have our usual lunch there carried by us. In the evening, when we boarded the jam packed train bound for Delhi, it was full of the tourists who had escaped from the valley after a long wait of so many days and were all averse to their visit to the valley, saying: “Kashmir Kala Pani Hai” naming Kashmir as Kala Pani, which was a name given to the notorious prison of Andaman islands established by Britishers for punishment to the freedom fighters of India. These tourists had sold all their belongings for their survival. On our return in 1963, we had to witness many more floods during our forty years service tenure till 2003, but it was never so worst as that of 1959. The flood duties would give us many sleepless nights, but we were told that a major flood visits the valley after almost every 50 years. However this year’s major flood marks 55th  year from that of the 1959 flood.

The history of floods in Kashmir valley is perhaps the oldest one. Recent discoveries of age old monuments have proven that before formation of Satisar Lake, Kashmir valley has been a valley inhabited by people. It began with the closing of mountainous gorge below Varmul, due to some catastrophe that the valley got flooded to form Satisar Lake. Later on with the puncturing of the outlet down below Varmul the receding of hundreds of feet deep  Satisar Lake, perhaps a hundred million years ago, people roaming on the mountain tops began to settle on the exposed lake bed. Floods continued to inundate the low lying areas frequently thereafter and the formation of Dal Lake is ascribed to flooding of Talni Marg during the reign of Raja Parvarsen in sixth century AD, who constructed an embankment from Dalgate to Rainawari (now a road) to block the drainage of the newly formed lake. In ninth century in the reign of king Awantiwarman, when the low lying areas of the valley were inundated due to blockade of river Jhelum down below Varmul, Er. Suya devised an ingenious method of removing the blockade by dropping gold coins into the river bed, which was got cleared by the local divers and subsequently releasing the dammed up waters on the upstream side with a gushing force to push down the rocks to allow the drainage of the flooded valley. Sir Walter Lawrence in his “Valley of Kashmir” gives us account of frequent floods in the Valley, touching the period of 19th century, when in absence of river embankments even Lal Chowk would get submerged. The tourists ke Younghusband liwould enter the first floor of Nedou’s Hotel by boat only, when the ground floor would remain submerged.

The second half of last century has testified concussion of low lying areas with residential colonies both authorized and unauthorized with the result that the new Master Plan of Srinagar city had to concede the abuse of the earlier one on account of the mushroom growth of housing colonies in flood basin areas of river Jhelum. Now even the low lying agriculture lands are getting urbanized despite existence of legislation against it. The threat of floods is looming large almost every year for which a separate Flood Control Department has been functioning to face any adverse situation. Besides we often hear the formation of disaster management committees and training for the volunteers but the affected people are full of complaints against the timely help from the administration.

In my book ‘Environment in Jammu & Kashmir’published M/S Gulshan Books in 2013, besides other topics on water management there is a topic on cost effective measures for flood management besides engineering disaster mitigation in which the subjects have been analysed with the expected unforeseen disasters due to climate changes.The write-ups still hold good for future planning and precautions.

Er. Ashraf Fazili (retd. Chief Engr)




He set on earth  mountains standing firm lest it should shake with you…… (Holy Quran Verse 10 Ayat 31)

—  Compared to older mountain ranges like the Aravallis in India and Applachian in USA, the Himalayas are known as Youngfold mountain, being the youngest range, with world’s tallest peak of 8,848m. These extend for 2,500 km in length & 50-100 km in width in a series of parallel ridges of folds.

—  About 250 million years ago, the earth’s land was a single super continent called Pangea, which was surrounded by a large ocean.Around 200 million years ago (known as the middle permean period) an extensive sea stretched along the longitudinal area presently occupied by the Himalayas. The sea was named The Tethys. Around this period the super continent began to  gradually split into different land masses & move apart in different directions.

—  Rivers from both the northern Eurasian land mass (Angara) & southern Indian land mass (Gondwana) deposited large amounts of sediments into the shallow sea that was the Tethys.

—  There were marine animals called ammonites living in the sea of the time. The present fossil finds on peaks, point to their coast dwellings.

—  The two land masses, the Eurasia and the Indian subcontinent moved closer and closer.

—  Indian plate-one of the fastest moving tectonic plate in the world- was moving north at the rate of about 16 cms/6.3 inches per year.

—  About 70 million years ago (upper cretaceous period) the initial mountain building process started, when the two land masses (or plates) began to collide with each other.

—   As a result the already shallow seabed rapidly folded & was raised into longitudinal ridges & valleys.

—  After about 65 million years ago (upper Eocene period) came the 2nd phase of mountain building.

—  The bed of Tethys started rising again.

—  The sea retreated and the sea bed was elevated into high mountain ranges.

—  Later about 25 million years (middle Miocene period) came another mountain building which led to the formation of low Shivalik ranges.

—  Next; the mountain building phases occurred as the Indian plate pushed against the Eurasian plate which led to the Himalayan ranges rising further.

—  The last major phase occurred 600,000 years ago.

—  Although the phase of major upheaval has passed, the Himalayas are still rising albeit at a much slower rate.

—  The Indian plate is continuously moving north at the rate of about 2 cms. every year, which raise Himalayas by 5mm per year=5km per million years (being world’s highest rate of uplift )

—  This means that  Himalayas are still  geographically active & structurally unstable.

—  Some of the greatest earthquakes have occurred in history due to tectonic forces released by the interaction of the two plates.

—  For this reason, earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in the entire Himalayan region.

—  There is a recent prediction of an imminent major earthquake in Hidukush mountains.

—  For this reason, earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in the entire Himalayan region.

—  There is a recent prediction of an imminent major earthquake in Hidukush mountains.

—  Area covered in North Western Himalayas: snow clad peaks, glaciers & dense forest cover  = 33 million ha=10% of the total geographical area of the country

—  Rural Population:  J&K 75.20 %, HP 90.20%, UK 74.30 %    against the national average of 72.20%

—  It is impossible to detect the movement of the plates and uplifting of the Himalayas by casual observation.

—  However Global Positioning System (GPS) has made it possible to measure even such a slow movement of plates.

—  The Alps in Europe is another example of a mountain chain that formed due to the collision of tectonic plates.

—     Praise be to Him who left His signs for us all around ………               

—  The Continents 180 million years agoThe continents 65 million years agoThe continents today






 Tectonic plates of the world


                The world plate movement

International boundaries of Himalayas: Pakistan,Nepal, China & India

                         The Snow covered peaks of Himalayas.

Natural Resources of the North Western Himalayas-Threats, Evaluation and Conservation.


National Seminar on Natural Resources of the North Western Himalayas- Threats, Evaluation and                  Conservation (March 26th-27th 2014 ) at Sri Pratap College Srinagar J&K State

            Natural Resources of the North Western Himalayas-Threats, Evaluation and Conservation.

                                                                  (A power point presentation)


                                                                Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE

                                                                        (Retd. Chief Engineer)


                                                           A view of north western Himalayas

                                                                     Himalayan terrain

                                                                             Map of Himalayas


                                                                     TECTONIC PLATES OF EARTH


                                                                Indian plate pushing Eurasian plate


  •  About 40 million years ago Indian plate crashed into Eurasian plate, at the geographically breakneck speed of 4 inches per year to form Himalayas-
  • The collision created Himalayan mountains welded together by warped and shattered rock interlocking to form the highest chain on earth.

               States touched

  •  Area Covered

 North Western  Himalayas  comprise of three states viz. J&K, Himachal Pradesh (HP) & Uttrakhund (UK), covering an area of about 33 million hectares, forming about 10 % of the total geographical area of the country.

Map of Himalayas


Location & Cover

  • The region occupies the strategic position in the northern boundary of the nation and touches international boundaries of Nepal , China & Pakistan.
  •  Most of the area is covered by snow-clad peaks, glaciers of higher Himalayas & dense forest covers of mid Himalayas.




  •  The region comparatively shows  a thin and dispersed human population due to its physiographic conditions and poor infrastructure development.
  • The rural population  in HP, J&K and UK constitutes  90.20, 75.20 and 74.30 % respectively as compared to the national average of 72.20 %.


Livestock population


  • The livestock population in the region has increased substantially during last three decades and is 21.33 million against human population of 29.53 million (1: 1.38)

 The Dominant Sector

  • The agriculture including livestock continues to be the dominant sector despite the fact that the area is exposed to adverse and harsh geographical and agri-silviculture conditions.

The Climate

  • The Himalayas exhibit  great diversity in climate,physiography,  soil & vegetation between the outer and inner Himalayas, ethnicity, resource availability and agricultural practices controlled by altitude.
  • The region experiences coldest temperatures in the world during winter. Mostly the hill stations of the Western Himalayas like Srinagar, Pahalgam, Shimla, Manali (Kallu valley), Kangra, Dharamsala, Maclodganj, Chambra & some regions in UK like Kamaon, Garhwal experience monsoon showers.

Major natural resources

  • The major natural resources of Western Himalayas are  water, forests, floral and faunal biodiversity.
  •  Forests constitute the major share in the land use of the region covering more than 65 % of the total geographical area of the region.


Largest Concentration of Glaciers


  • The Himalayas have world’s  largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar regions in spite of being the youngest mountain ranges on the planet with substantial growth occurring in just last million years.

Snow peaked tops

 Mountain ranges

The mountain ranges in this region are usually 50-100 Km wide and 1000-5000m high. Dhandhar range in HP, Pir- Panjal in J&K and Mussorie in UK are some of the important hill ranges.

Soil loss

The estimated annual soil loss from north western Himalayas  is approximately 35 million tons, which is estimated to cost around US $ 32.20 million.

  Fodder need

  • Strategies by planting fodder trees or grass in the waste/degraded lands (representing 7.9, 9.8 & 11.5 % of the geographical area  in HP, J&K &UK respectively) is  needed for enhancing the fodder production.

Growing plants

  • Climate of the region is conducive for growth of a large variety of plants ranging from tropical to temperate due to different altitudinal ranges varying from 100m above msl to more than 4000 m amsl i.e. sub tropical to cold temperate alpine  zone.

Medicinal & Aromatic plants

  • The region is the natural abode of large number of medicinal and aromatic plants and the value of medicinal herbs from forests is enormous.

Hydrological Potential

  •   The hydrological potential of these states consists of vast & rich water resources as glaciers, rivers & lakes. The high altitude areas of lesser and greater Himalayas are covered with glaciers and snow fields & are the origin of a number of perennial  rivers, which heavily drain into Indus and Gangetic basins & form a most fertile Indo-gangetic region of the country, known as “food bowl of India”.

Hydro power potential (HP)

  • Catchment area & hydro power potential of different rivers in Himachal Pradesh:

 Major Basin Tributary- Area (sq,kms)-Hydropower pot.(MW)

  • (A)  Indus

    Chenab                         – 7,500               – 3,032

     Ravi                             – 5,451               – 2,159

     Beas                             – 20,402             – 4,604

     Sutlaj                           – 20,000              – 10,355


     Total                             – 53,353             – 20,150

(B) Ganga

     Yamuna                         – 2,320               – 592


TotalA+B                          – 55,673             – 20,742


  © Mini-Projects                                           –     750


GT                                      – 55,673            – 21,492

 Hydro power in J&K

  • Potetial assessed by Dr. Ramshoo : 25,000 MW
  • Potemtial assessed by PDC           : 20,000 MW

  Chenab                  – 10,654 MW

  Jhelum                    – 3,141 MW

  Indus                       – 1599 MW

  Ravi                         –    417 MW


Total                           – 15,811 MW


Exploited                    -2327 MW

Lakes in J&K State

  • A unique culture emerged on the banks of lakes surrounded and protected by Himalayan mountains on all sides. In Srinagar in Dal Lake entire community living in boats depends on lake for subsistence. These hospitable people claim their decent from Prophet Noah. In Ladakh a small community of nomads still herds yaks along the shores of giant Pangong lake. In the northern part of the state in Baltistan, a series of high altitude lakes exists in the high mountain valleys above Skardu. J&K abounds with such natural treasures. Various lakes  of the State include : Dal  (8 x 6.4 km),Nigeen , Anchar (8×3 km), Manasbal (5x1km), Wullar (16×9.6km), Hokersar(5×1.5km), Konsarnag (5x3km), Gangabal,Sheshnag, Neelnag, Tarsar Marsar, Sherasar, Sukh & Dukh- the two frozen lakes at Harmukh.

Dal Lake Srinagar

A Houseboat in Dal Lake

Wullar Lake (the largest fresh water lake in South Asia)

Sheshnag Lake

Mansar Lake

Threats to Water bodies

  • With deforestation, increasing tourism & steady urban growth along the shores of some lakes and rivers, the centuries old balance between man and nature has been disrupted and desperately needs to be restricted.
  • Deforestation  and the consequent erosion of the top-soil is having a devastating effect on the rivers & lakes. The silt & the soil being washed off of the barren mountain sides is rapidly  transferring the Himalayan water ecosystem while hastening the shrinkage of large lakes

Dal Lake endangered

  • Runoff of chemical fertilizers from the vast drainage basins around the lake, sewage and other oxygen demanding wastes, which bring in 15 tons of phosphorous & 300 tons of nitrogen every year combine to place the lake’s internal life process under severe stress.
  • Oxygen levels fall, the fish die out & the lake loses its aesthetic appeal. Decaying organic matter produces disagreeable odors & unsightly green scum of algae and weed infested waterways.

KEWA report

  • Although Dal has not reached such an advanced level of eutrophication, the process has begun to set in. Tourism has added increased pressure on the delicate environment of the Dal, for instance the number of house boats around the Dal lake has grown to 1400 from 400 in 1975.
  •  If current trends continue, the experts opine that the Dal lake will be destroyed within 80 years-Brar- Numbal mini lake in the heart of the city is a living example of this.
  • The upcoming KEWA report concludes with a series of suggested solutions for safeguarding of J&K lakes & waterways including the possibility of eco-tourism & environmentally sound urban planning. It is hoped that this report will bring about awareness in the administration and among inhabitants of J&K with the hope that the threat to J&K lakes can be averted.

Lakes in HP

  • Water from Beas & Sutlej rivers has been stored in Poong Dam & Bhakra Govind Sagar reservoirs having capacity  of 7290 & 9621 million cubic meters resp. for irrigation & power generation. It is major source of irrigation to Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan.

Hydropower/lakes in Utrakhund

  • Water from Beas & Sutlej rivers has been stored in Poong Dam & Bhakra Govind Sagar reservoirs having capacity  of 7290 & 9621 million cubic meters resp. for irrigation & power generation. It is major source of irrigation to Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan.
  • The catchment area of Ganges in India is approx. 8,63,000 sq. kms., which covers 26,20 % of total geographical area of the country, particularly of northern states of India & is considered most fertile region of the world.

Soil Conservation & Ecosystem

  •  The growing stock of trees outside the forest land (ToF) under agro forestry or social forestry  has played a significant role  to enhance the GDP of the country from 1 to 1.70 %. However the tree cover in J&K received a great set back in last three decades. The tree cover increased significantly during last 3 decades when ICAR initiated  All India Research Project on Agroforestry (AKRP-AF) during 1982-83 & farmers were encouraged to grow fodder trees & enhance their income & to meet their domestic demand.

Other renewable resources

  • Amongst other renewable resources are deposits of Boron, lead, lithium, coal, chromium,  ores of iron, copper, tungsten, zinc and deposits of building materials like limestone, dolomite & marble

Cement Industries

  • These deposits occur across length and breadth of Himalayas cutting across international boundaries. Due to mineral deposits many cement industries have come up during last 3 decades.


  • The Himalayas present a store house of biodiversity, where flora and fauna vary extensively with climate diversity from one region to the other and this biodiversity is used for developing new varieties / hybrids in agriculture and horticulture crops to enhance the productivity.

Intensive Agriculture

  • Intensive agriculture is practiced in Kangra, Kullu in HP & Kashmir valley in J&K and Doon valley in Babhar and Tarai region in UK. In these low hills, agriculture fields are terraced in some parts except plain areas and fruit plantations are raised along with several arable crops such as paddy, maize, pulses, wheat, oil seeds, potatoes and vegetables etc. Cultivation is practiced upto 2500 m elevation.


  • Floriculture is also fast emerging as an important cash generating activity of the production systems in certain areas. Fruit orchards of several species are found in the hills of HP, J&K and UK. Plantation on agriculture lands was not common in the past as enough forests were available in the vicinity.


  • However after clearing the forests for plantation of fruit trees as orchards in the hills during last 4-5 decades has created acute shortage of firewood and fodder and has compelled the farmers  to grow trees on their farmlands as a part of their farming systems to meet their daily needs of fuel, fodder and timber

Indigenous Agro-forestry Systems

  •  Various indigenous agro forestry systems occur in different agro climatic zones of the region. A homestead (Kyaroo) is operational  farm unit in which a number of tree species for fodder, timber, and fuel wood are raised along with livestock, poultry and/or fish to satisfy the farmer’s  needs.

Kyaroo crops

  • In kyaroo multiple crops  are present in a multitier canopy configuration. The fodder trees & bamboo for both timber & fodder are managed in upper storey, whereas  middle storey is constituted of bushes like medicinal plants etc.


  • The fruit trees like pear,plum, lemon & citrus etc. are grown  for domestic use. Wide variation in the intensity of  tree cropping is noticeable in different places.
  • Plantation  crop combination play a major role in national economics. The important plantation crop of the Himalayan region is tea.

 What Saints Visualised

  • Over 650 years back Shaikh-ul-Alam (RA) said:

 “Food is Subservient to Forests.”

              ان پوشہ تیلہ یلہ ون پوشہ









The UN General Assembly declared 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). World Environment Day (WED) 2014 was celebrated under the theme of SIDS, with the goal of raising awareness of their unique development challenges and successes regarding a range of environmental problems, including climate change, waste management, unsustainable consumption, degradation of natural resources, and extreme natural disasters.
Climate change is a major challenge for SIDs, as global warming is causing ocean level to rise. Due to their small size and isolation, SIDs are more vulnerable to natural & environmental disasters, climate change & sea level rise. However some of these islands have also been successful in overcoming their environmental problems. From Palau to Puerto Rico, the stories of resiliency and innovation abound. For instance, Tokelau recently began producing 100% of its energy from solar sources. In Fiji, lacking the resources to make new drainage systems and seawalls, local residents are restoring mangroves and coral reefs to help prevent flooding and erosion. These stories and solutions can be applied to environmental concerns all over the world. The problems that they face are: climate change, waste management, unsustainable consumption, degradation of natural resources, extreme natural disasters in most of over population and continuing industrialization.

The effect of climate change was witnessed by us too in J&K State, with an elongated winter this year with frequent rains and snowfall in hilly areas even in the month of May. This has adversely affected our agriculture, horticulture, floriculture causing late sowing of seeds/saplings, late pollination of fruit trees, late blooming of flowers like tulips etc. respectively. Even in the month of June we still feel comparatively lower temperatures in the mornings & evenings. Besides the other threats of pollution of our water bodies, air & noise pollution, inadequate solid & liquid waste management, forest denudation etc. persist despite Kashmir being branded as heaven on earth.
Stop killing our oceans:
In her book “The Sea Around us” Rachel Carson saw the oceans as one last haven safe for ever. How it could be otherwise, when the oceans are so vast that continents are mere islands in their midst, so deep that a Mount Everest could be lost beneath their surface? How does one pollute a volume of almost 320 million cubic miles? How poison an environment so rich that it harbors 200,000 species of life?
Even though the oceans blanket three fourths of earth, their productivity is limited mostly to the narrow bands of undersea land existing from coastlines which comprise the continental shelves. 80% of the world’s salt water – fish catches taken from these shallow coastal waters, which make up only a tiny fraction of the total sea. In addition almost 70% of all usable fish & shell fish spend a crucial part of their lives in the estuaries- the coastal bays, tidelands & river mouths that are 20 times more fertile than the open sea, seven times more fertile than a wheat field. Cut the chain of life in these areas, destroy the myriad bottom organisms, pollute the continental shelf waters & you will also eliminate the vital ocean fisheries.
Already pollution or overfishing & sometimes both have gouged fisheries around the world. Meanwhile in a headlong rush to create more land , vital coastal tidelands are being filled for highways, industry, bridges and water front homes. At the same time the remaining estuaries are fed billions of gallons of sewage & industrial waste every day. These poison fish choke our oyster & render the bays & tidelands unfit for anything.
Pressure also builds on the oceans beyond, for instance in 1968 some 48 million tons of solid wastes were carried out by barges and ships& dumped in ocean waters of the USA. These wastes included garbage, waste oil, dredging spoils, industrial acids, caustics, cleaners & sledges, airplane parts, junked automobiles & spoiled food. During the two papyrus boat trips across the Atlantic, author explorer Thor Heyerdahl sighted plastic bottles, squeeze tubes, oil & other trash that had somehow been swept by the currents to mid-ocean. On some days the crew hesitated to wash because of the amount of pollution. Ugly brown raw sewage is piped from Miami beach Florida that sprawls over blue green waves. Fishermen, divers & others report similar situations all along US coast lines & many other parts of the world.
Steps needed:
” Stop dumping of wastes in to the sea, the big & small lakes & coastal areas, our rivers & bays except for treated liquid wastes equal to natural quality of the ocean waters. Instead recycle wastes back in to economy.
” Set tough controls before undertaking new ocean activities such as buildings, off shore jet ports & drilling off shore oil wells in new areas.
” Halt the reckless dredging & filling of priceless tidelands & carving of ocean front in the name of progress.
With the present trend the marine biologists predict that it will put an end to significant life in the sea in 50 years or less. This would be a catastrophe posing grave consequences to a world dependent on these vital resources for food, raw materials, recreation & in the near future, probably living space.
The largest island in the world is Greenland. Australia is considered a continent because it has unique plant and animal life. Antarctica also is a continent – larger than Europe and Australia. Greenland, although quite big, shares the habitat features of Northern America.
The smallest island in the world – according to the Guinness Book of Records – is Bishop Rock. It lies at the most south-westerly part of the United Kingdom. It is one of 1040 islands around Britain and only has a lighthouse on it. In 1861, the British government set out the parameters for classifying an island. It was decided that if it was inhabited, the size was immaterial. However, if it was uninhabited, it had to be “the summer’s pasturage of at least one sheep” – which is about two acres.
A lot of standing room – not much else. This is Bishop Rock, the world’s smallest island.
Going by the above parameters, most of the 179 584 “islands” around Finland and the almost 200 000 around Canada would not match Indonesia as the country with the most islands. In fact, Indonesia consists only of islands – 13 667 of them, 6000 of which are inhabited.
The remotest uninhabited island is Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic. The remotest inhabited island in the world is Tristan da Cunha. It is in the South Atlantic, 2575 km (1600 miles) south of St Helena, which is an island a few hundred kilometres (miles) off the coast of South Africa. Tristan da Cunha has no TV but it has one radio station. The population totals 242 and they only have 7 surnames (last names) between them, so they are all related. Tristan da Cunha does have a capital, called Edinburgh of the South Seas.
The smallest independent island country is the Pacific island of Nauru. It measures 21,28 sq km (8.2 sq mi). (Only the Vatican City and Monaco are smaller countries.)
Of the 6 billion+ people in the world, one out of ten lives on an island (600 million). Which is not so hard to imagine when you consider that more than 240 million people live in Indonesia alone – and some 61 million live in Britain, the only island connected to a continent through the chunnel (tunnel under the sea).
Here I would like to reproduce the extracts of the report of Mr. Ronny Jumeau Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and SIDS issues on Expert Group Meeting on Oceans, Seas and Sustainable Development: Implementation and follow-up to Rio+20 at United Nations Headquarters 18-19 April 2013 and here I quote:
“While oceans play a key role in everyone’s lives, no one is more dependent on them than the small, vulnerable and isolated island developing states surrounded by the seas. Oceans are now firmly established on the global agenda after taking center stage at Rio+20 last year. However, the SIDS’ unique dependence on the marine environment means the oceans have commanded center stage in our development since humankind has been on the islands. We are the ocean people, so to speak: we live off and by the oceans and to varying degrees on and for them as well. The oceans define who we are and the coastal and marine environment is an integral part of our island lifestyle. Our islands may be small in land area, but we morph into large ocean states when our exclusive economic zones are factored in. Tuvalu’s EEZ for example, is 27,000 times the size of its land. The Republic of Kiribati, the largest small island developing state in terms of ocean territory, has the 13th largest exclusive economic zone on Earth. SIDS are the custodians of no fewer than 15, or 30 per cent, of the 50 largest EEZs.
Dependence on oceans
In the case of many islands, Seychelles, our no 1 pillar of the economy is marine-based tourism. It provides 26 per cent of GDP, 30 per cent of jobs and 70 per cent of foreign exchange earnings in a country where more than 80 per cent of what we consume is imported, mostly by sea. Fisheries, our second biggest industry, add another eight per cent to our GDP. Such a heavy dependence on oceans is repeated across the SIDS. Oceans are central to our sustainable development, to poverty reduction and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and to our post-2015 development agenda. And yet, despite our best efforts to help ourselves, the lack of technical, institutional, technological and financial support means we are still to benefit to the fullest from our marine resources. Where we do benefit, it is not necessarily in the most sustainable manner.
Rio+20 :
It is no surprise therefore, that the small island developing states formed the loudest cheering section when the oceans won big at Rio+20.There definitely needs to be an international instrument regulating the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. SIDS therefore welcome Rio+20’s call for a United Nations General Assembly decision to develop such an instrument under the Convention on the Law of the Sea by next year.
Marine Pollution
Nowhere are the effects of marine pollution more deeply felt and damaging than in the small island countries entirely surrounded by the ocean. This is especially so in SIDS like mine whose economies are heavily dependent on the state and indeed the attractiveness of our beaches, coastal waters, coral reefs and fisheries.
Sea Level Rise
The most serious long-term threat to SIDS is of course sea level rise which threatens to cover many of us with the oceans, thus turning the blue planet even bluerナthat is if we are not swept away first by coastal erosion which will be made worse by the slow collapse of dying reefs.
Ocean Acidification
Ocean acidification is the single greatest threat to coral reefs which provide SIDS with food and income. They also protect us from the ocean waves and tidal currents which, as extreme weather events such as storm surges and abnormally high tides intensify, threaten to sweep away some islands before they are covered by sea level rise.
Coral Reefs
Rio+20 drew attention to the important economic, social and environmental contribution of coral reefs, especially to islands and other coastal states, and the high vulnerability of coral reefs and mangroves to such impacts as climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, destructive fishing practices and pollution, among others. Indeed, the growing pressures on coral reefs may cause them to be the first marine ecosystem to collapse.
Marine Protected Areas
SIDS thus see conservation measures such as marine protected areas not just as a way to protect our ocean biodiversity and resources, but also as a tool for sustainable development, because for us marine biodiversity has significant socio-economic and cultural value.
Finally on fisheries, I would like to return to the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want, specifically paragraph 168. In it we commit to intensify efforts and take measures to meet the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation’s 2015 target to maintain or restore stocks to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield in the shortest time feasible. Once again the effect of illegal, unreported and unregulated or IUU fishing is most felt in those countries that depend most heavily on fisheries like the small island developing states. We place strong emphasis on paragraph 174 of The Future We Want. This urges that by next year there be strategies to further help developing states, especially the least developed and SIDS, develop their national capacity to conserve, sustainably manage and realize the benefits of sustainable fisheries, including through improved market access for their fish products. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this to small island developing states. In the Pacific
SIDS, for example, the tuna fishery alone contributes more than 10 per cent of GDP and in some islands more than 50 per cent of exports. It is estimated that fish contributes at least 50 per cent of total animal protein intake in some SIDS. There certainly is no lack of international instruments in fisheries: they cover straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, responsible fisheries and IUU fishing. What has been lacking is the political will to effectively implement and enforce them. As I showed in the examples I gave earlier, SIDS certainly do not lack political will or innovative thinking: what we lack is capacity – technical, institutional, technological and financial” -en quote.