PART-IV: Threat to Hydel dams, agricultural activities

GREEN GOLD IN DANGER

Ajmer Alam Wani

JAMMU, AUG 20: Deforestation and the extinction of green cover from the land and in several parts of Doda, Billawar, Ramnagar, Basohli, Akhnoor, Reasi, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch, Anantnag, Baramullah and Kupwara have posed a major threat to agriculture activity and the dams. The landslides which occur along Jammu-Kishtwar Highway during rains are posing major threat to the Baglihar Hydel Project Dam as the landslides material is accumulating into the river Chenab. According to the experts the main cause of landslides along the highway is mass cutting of trees done to extend the road connectivity to make more and more areas accessible. The trees were cut down during the construction of roads but no plantation was made along the highway so the land continued to slide. During monsoon, huge area of agricultural land and top soil is being eroded by the hilly nullahs, streams and the rivers. Sources said that the production of Salal Dam has been badly affected due to erosion of soil from the mountains and huge silt has been formed in the lake bed. It has added to the worry of the Government because every year, the power generation is declining fast. Several dams in the northern India are facing the similar catastrophe. Especially during winters the power generation goes very low. It appears that no proper attention was given by the planners for the afforestation activity on both sides of the Chinab river belt and adjoining areas and even effective ecological measures were avoided which should also be an important aspect of a successful Hydel project. Several irrigation projects are proving as the major failure due to increasing problem of erosion. Though, the Department of Soil Conservation, Irrigation and Flood Control have been set up for the protection of land but the top officials claim that funds provided to them for the protection works by the Government every year are not sufficient. Huge loss is caused every year to the crops and the land by rivers and nullahs but no affective measures have been taken to save hundreds and thousands kanals of land from being washed away. This process is seriously damaging food productivity, shortening the life of the dams and irrigation projects and harming productive wetlands of the region. Due to illegal deforestation the loss of top soil with great pace is directly affecting the green cover on the land and the agriculture production. The speed of soil loss every year is hundred times more that the soil formation and if the process is allowed to continue the human life on the earth may face major famines and droughts in coming decades. It may also lead to collapse of Hydel power generation. Continuous deforestation in the lower, middle and upper Himalayan ranges and increase in the level of land erosion has posed a major threat to our Hydel projects, agriculture and the normal climate of the region. The problem is not only being faced in this part of the northern region but all over the world today. A study conducted in the recent past has shown that the rate of deforestation is higher than previously estimated. It has been estimated that global tropical deforestation is most likely in the range of 14 to 20 million hectares per year.

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