Six years ago Jammu and Kashmir was broken into new administrative districts— one of them Shopian. Since the day Shopian got district status, developmental process started subsequently. But the way this development has shaped has raised serious question about the motives. Agencies heading the works seem to be unaware about the sustainability. A careful analysis reveals that a natural disaster is staring at us.
Satellite images (Fig. 1, 1A, 2, & 2A) seen through Google Earth of the Shopian area through river Rembiara clearly shows that the construction of major government buildings, schools etc. are not along the banks of river Rembiara but on its course.
Fig. 1 Satellite Image, dated 21st July, 2004 shows no signs of construction on river Rembiara near Shopian Town. Courtesy: Google Earth
Fig. 1A Satellite Image, dated 15th March, 2011 shows constructed buildings (marked by red) on river Rembiara near Shopian town. Courtesy: Google Earth
Fig. 2 Satellite Image, dated 21st July, 2004 shows no signs of construction on river Rembiara near Rang Kadal. Courtesy: Google Earth
Fig. 2A Satellite Image, dated 15th March, 2011 shows constructed buildings (marked by red) on river Rembiara near Rang Kadal. Courtesy: Google Earth
It is ironic that in the modernized era where stress is given on the sustainable development how the administration is allowing construction of buildings on the river course and why engineers are working on such projects? Is the government thinking that the river course-land of Rembiara is free from water and fit for the construction. It may seem hard to believe that a small, slow-flowing stream or gentle river could cause serious damage to people and the places in which they live and work, but looks can be deceptive!
People love to live near to rivers - in the past mainly for food, water, transport and protection. Even today people enjoy the peace and tranquility flowing water can offer. But flooding can turn even the most harmless looking watercourse like river Rembiara into a raging torrent of large-scale destruction - buildings may prove no obstacle to its power; people’s lives may be lost.
As recently experienced by Uttarakhand, which grapples with one of the worst natural disasters the state has faced in recent times, questions are being raised on whether the destruction was man-made. Unplanned development in the hill towns of the Uttarakhand state with guest houses, hotels and all manners of illegal encroachment taking place along the rivers, it was a disaster waiting to happen.
(Ashaq Hussain Sheikh has a PhD in Remote Sensing and Geo-informatics, Satellite Image Classifier, He works with Dept. of Environment and Remote Sensing.)