J & K’s Bhaderwah tribal hamlet strives to protect the body of water [Representative image]| Photo credit: iStock images
Bhaderwah: Amid the majority of freshwater bodies in scenic Jammu and Kashmir’s Bhaderwah turning into drains, a small, inaccessible hamlet of tribal Gujjars here demonstrated how to keep the water bodies clean.
The inhabitants of the hamlet of Aalan, belonging to the category below the poverty line, with a very low literacy rate, have decided not to throw litter near water bodies.
In addition, adhering to the advice of their elders to keep the Aalan Nullah freshwater stream clean and safe to drink, all households dug pits and built septic tanks, becoming the embodiment of the Prime Minister’s flagship program. “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” and an inspiration for the villages and towns downstream.
“Aalan is unique not only for its location, but also for the bold step the village has taken to get rid of trash and plastic and keep it free from pollution and waste,” one official said, praising residents for the implementation of the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. in letter and spirit.
Located about 17 km from Bhaderwah town, Aalan in Katyara Panchayat of the J&K Bhaderwah Supplementary District is a unique hamlet and the last village in Union Territory on the Chamba border of Himachal Pradesh.
Located on the slopes of the mighty Ashapati Glacier, the hamlet is at the confluence of the Kailash and Ashapati Glaciers.
The village has 30 households with a population of 270 inhabitants. The main occupation of the village is agriculture, mainly corn, and cattle breeding. The village receives sufficient rain and draws its drinking water from Aalan Nullah and is distributed through pipelines to every household.
Officials said villagers got together 10 years ago to keep the Aalan stream that runs through the village clean.
The modus operandi was to bring together all the villagers (50 to 100), with the women in the front line, on Friday to sweep, separate plastic waste from others to prevent them from entering the body of water, officials said. . .
“When starting this initiative, our main goal was to prevent garbage, including human and animal waste, from entering the stream. Another problem that we had in the village is that the majority of the inhabitants practiced open defecation which seriously polluted the water bodies. .
“While we took the initiative to build a toilet with limited resources a decade ago, the Rural Development Department stepped up to help us through their Swachh Bharat Abhiyan,” Hashim told PTI. Din Teenda (70), a local resident.
“And with their help, we built sumps and septic tanks,” he added.
He said the village wanted to set an example for neighboring villages, especially the town of Bhaderwah which sends all of its sewage to water bodies, causing locals to already complain about various ailments related to the polluted water.
“We don’t want to do this, we have the responsibility as an upstream village to send drinking water to the downstream villages and to the town of Bhaderwah,” said Rozy Begum (20), the only woman. who studied up to grade 12.
According to the 2011 census, out of a total of 2,029 houses in the city of Bhaderwah, 1,987 are without a septic tank and all human waste is airlifted to open drains through which it enters the three waterways. sweet that cross the city, namely Neeru, Halain and Puneja Nullah.
“Technically, the city of Bhaderwah is number one in Jammu and Kashmir in terms of open defecation, followed by the district of Budgam due to which our people are forced to search humans every day,” said the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Watal association, Aashiq Ali Watal.
“Surprisingly, the Bhaderwah municipal committee managed to declare Bhaderwah an ODF city four years ago, which is a cruel joke with us,” he added.
Dharam Kant Dogra, an environmentalist in the city of Bhaderwah, said residents used water from the three streams for drinking and cooking until 1984.
“Unfortunately, we have polluted the freshwater bodies so much that they now stink. We should learn from the poor Gujjar community of Aalan village and government agencies should also take immediate corrective action to save the precious plans. of water, ”Dogra said.