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Make commitments rather than giving sermons on WED !

Let us bring change at our household level
12:00 AM Jun 08, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
make commitments rather than giving sermons on wed

 The World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5th every year. The celebrations continue for a week and we see lots of activities taking place during this entire week. As a campaigner for clean environment and climate action I personally believe that World Environment Day-WED celebrations are mere formalities for Govt, Non Governmental Organizations and educational institutions. I publicly said this during my two lectures in the last couple of days.


While speaking during a WED programme organised by Environmental Policy Group-EPG in Srinagar, I urged upon the audience to adopt a resolution that all participants would start at least composting their kitchen wastes within the premises of their houses. The EPG members adopted the resolution at the end of that programme. On June 6th Thursday I made a similar appeal to the audience during a programme organized by Gulmarg Development Authority -GDA.


The audience which included officers of GDA, Forest Department, District Administration Baramulla, Tourism Department , Hoteliers of Gulmarg, travel operators etc., unanimously agreed to start home-composting of food and other biodegradable waste.


The Govt organizations , NGOs and educational institutions celebrate World Environment Day -WED day but what is the outcome? Do we make some commitments on this day and then give our feedback the next year about what all we have achieved in 365 days? If the World Environment Day programme doesn’t make us even undertake waste segregation at our household level or we don’t compost our kitchen waste within the premise of our houses what is the fun to participate and speak during these programmes? Isn’t all this a mockery when we don’t even do basic exercise to implement the Municipal Solid Waste Rules 2016 wherein biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste can’t be mixed together?


Our water table is coming up


This year, the theme of World Environment Day is - Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience. “According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, up to 40 % of our planet’s land is degraded, directly affecting half of the world’s population. The number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 per cent since 2000 - without urgent action, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.


The droughts and land degradation isn’t a major challenge for Kashmir valley because we face different environmental challenges. As we see and read that the water table across India and other South Asian countries is receding and bore wells and other underground water sources are drying up, this is opposite in Kashmir valley.


Our water table is coming up in most of the places except the areas located near the river banks and streams where unregulated riverbed mining is done and because of that water table goes down. Srinagar and many areas across Kashmir valley get flooded within hours of rainfall and this is because of unregulated developmental activities, urbanisation and earth-filling done for creating new highways, railway lines, developing residential colonies etc.

Kashmir valley was a massive lake millions of years back and it will again become a lake in next few centuries. The water channels, streams, irrigation canals, wetlands, ponds, and lakes have been choked and encroached upon and natural seepage of water has been halted. The constant dumping of plastic waste in our water bodies and drainage system has further made this thing challenging and that is the reason we see massive water logging on roads in Srinagar and other towns.

Waste processing a challenge

As we often say charity begins at home, I believe the best way to celebrate the world environment day is to start treating our kitchen waste in our kitchen gardens by digging a small pit to process it on a daily basis. Managing waste is a challenging task in Kashmir valley due to our unique topography and limited waste lands to set up new landfill sites.

In rural areas many segregation sheds made by the Rural Development Department are not operational and many are constructed near water bodies and roadsides in violation of MSW Rules 2016 and Water Pollution Act 1974. Some sheds have been encroached upon, reportedly. A contractor hired for waste management by BDO BK Pora in Budgam has now approached Secretary RDD & Panchayati Raj Dr Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary as he isn’t being provided a waste processing site in the area.


On an average 30 kgs plastic is used during a wedding ceremony in Kashmir. On a daily basis there are 2000 weddings in Kashmir valley between May to October every year. It means we dump 60,000 Kgs of plastic waste daily in our valley during these 6 months. Now imagine the waste generated at tourist places and other commercial establishments? The best way to celebrate World Environment Day is to make some commitments like starting home composting of kitchen waste or carrying a cloth or jute bag for shopping or making our weddings plastic free. Let us take small initiatives rather than doing nothing! 

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow &Chairman and Founder of J&K RTI Movement. He is also Anant Fellow for Climate Action