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Let this spring pave way for cleaner, greener J&K

We need to take measures for mitigating impact of pollution, climate change
12:00 AM Mar 11, 2024 IST | ARIF SHAFI WANI
let this spring pave way for cleaner  greener j k
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Spring brings life back to nature; it rejuvenates our water bodies by fresh lease of waters and infuses greenery into trees. It is the season of life!

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As we witnessed erratic climatic patterns this winter, we hope that spring will augur well for eco-fragile Jammu and Kashmir which has been bearing the brunt of climate change and pollution from the past several decades.

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Due to increasing human activities, irreversible damage has been done to J&K’s glaciers, mountains, forests, water bodies and wetlands. There is a need for mitigation measures at our own levels to at least minimise further damage.

We must understand how nations across the world are joining hands to fight climate change. The sixth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) concluded last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. After marathon deliberations, the Member States formulated 15 resolutions with an aim for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

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In the UN event, 5,600 people representing 190 countries participated in the week-long event. The UNEA-6 resolutions advance work of Member States on management of metals, mineral resources, chemicals and waste, on environmental assistance, on integrated water resource management in the domestic sector, agriculture and industry to tackle water stress, on sustainable lifestyles, on rehabilitation of degraded lands and waters.

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As per UNEA, the Ministerial Declaration affirmed Member States’ commitment to slow climate change, restore and protect biodiversity, create a pollution-free world and confront issues of desertification, land and soil degradation, drought and deforestation by taking effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions.

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UNEA-6 president Leila Benali rightly underscored the need for public participation in mitigating climate change. “As governments, we need to push for more and reinvented partnerships with key stakeholders to implement these mandates. We need to continue to partner with civil society, continue to guide and empower our creative youth, and also with the private sector and philanthropies.”

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UNEA-6 elected a new President Abdullah Bin Ali Amri to preside over UNEA-7.  Amri summed up the situation which has arisen due to climate change in a philosophical way.

“We share one Earth, bask under the same sun, and we must recognise that there is no backup plan. There’s no other planet waiting for us to escape to. Hence, it’s imperative that we unite our efforts with urgency and determination to safeguard our precious planet and protect its natural splendor. Together, let’s embark on this crucial journey to secure a sustainable future for generations to come.”

The message is clear. Climate change propelled by global warming is not confined to any particular place or country. The phenomena transcends man-made boundaries and borders. That is why the tentacles of climate change have gradually draped J&K too. Memories of clean and green J&K are still fresh in our memories. It was till few decades ago that we used to drink fresh water from our water bodies, breath fresh whiff of air in lush forests, enjoy view of scenic landscapes!

Now, we use packaged drinking water as most of our water bodies are extremely polluted, we wear face masks due to high pollution load in air, we close our eyes as landscapes are turning into concrete jungles due to unregulated construction in eco-fragile areas. We forgot that devastating floods in September, 2014 was a sort of nature’s revenge! We constructed houses and buildings in river Jhelum’s flood plains and even didn’t spare water bodies and wetlands from encroachments, filling and constructions.

Burnt tree stumps dotting once lush patches of forests in J&K stands as testimony to large-scale destruction of our green gold.
We have been experiencing mostly drier and hotter winters for the past several years.  Environmentalists have been voicing their concern over erratic climatic patterns in J&K.

Undoubtedly, increasing human activities in J&K’s eco-fragile areas are one of the major triggers of erratic climate patterns. Rapid melting of glaciers is bound to enhance serious implications for regional water availability and hydrological regimes.

Being an eco-fragile zone, J&K is confronted with environmental challenges due to global warming, unplanned urbanisation, deforestation and vandalisation of water bodies. Studies have projected that the Kashmir valley will experience more frequent and prolonged droughts in the future. As stakeholders we are too responsible for erratic climate patterns!

Even if we don’t plunder our natural resources, we don’t stop those who do it! We are witness rather than accomplices to wanton destruction of forests, mountains, agricultural fields, wetlands and water bodies.

We have to understand that none will come to protect our bruised and battered nature. It is we who have to act as responsible citizens and contribute our bit to global efforts to minimise pollution and fight climate change. Lest we forget that our survival and existence of our future generations depends on the health of our nature!

Author is Executive Editor, Greater Kashmir

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