Govt Admits Valley's Sewage Flows Into Jhelum

4 June 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ishfaq Tantry

Srinagar: For the first time, the authorities in Kashmir have admitted that in the absence of proper drainage and sewer system, almost all untreated sewage, filth and drainage generated from all major townships of the Kashmir valley, including Srinagar city, finds its way into the Jhelum, the region's lone river body, once famous for its pristine waters. The 813-km-long Jhelum originates from Verinag, a fresh water spring in Anantnag district of south Kashmir. Throughout its long journey from Kashmir up to Pakistan and before flowing into the Arabian Sea, the river passes through several villages, towns and cities such as Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. 'Most of the major population concentrations of the Valley are situated on the banks of the Jhelum. In the absence of any proper drainage and sewerage system, all untreated sewage and drainage of these towns and Srinagar city find its way to the Jhelum,' the Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC), Kashmir, revealed in his two compliance reports to the J&K High Court, one of which was submitted before the court today. A Division Bench of the High Court, which is hearing a PIL (public interest litigation) by one Qazi Rahid Shams, calling for preservation and conservation of the Sindh river, in its recent orders had asked the Chief Engineer, I&FC, to file a comprehensive statement of the facts indicating all sources of pollution to the Jhelum Through its journey, the Chief Engineer said, the Jhelum receives untreated drainage and sewage of every settlement through countless drains, constructed by people individually and those constructed by various government agencies such as the Urban Environmental Engineering Department (UEED), Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), and the Local Bodies and Rural Development Department. 'There is only one STP (sewage treatment plant) at Brari Nambal (in Srinagar), which treats sewage and drainage of a small portion of Srinagar city before it is drained into the Jhelum. This plant is run by the UEED,' the Chief Engineer said. 'The magnitude of the treatment of sewage and drainage is very huge in comparison to the efforts of the government to tackle this problem,' he said, adding that his department had taken up the matter with the government departments and agencies concerned which have become major contributors to the pollution of the Jhelum. These departments have also been asked to submit details of plans to treat sewage before its drainage into the Jhelum, he said. Meanwhile, before issuing any further directions, the High Court, clubbed the PIL on Sindh conservation with the PIL by an NGO, Kashmir Environment Protection, calling for conservation and preservation of the Wular Lake. The court directed the government to take into account a suggestion by amicus curie Zaffar Ahmad Shah that there should be one unified preservation and conservation plan to utilise and beautify all water bodies of Kashmir. Sullied waters The Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control, Kashmir, has revealed to the J&K High Court that in the absence of proper drainage and sewerage, almost all untreated sewage from all major townships of the Kashmir valley, including Srinagar city, finds its way into the Jhelum