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Environmental degradation in Chitral

By Junaid Saleh Hayat Amidst the scenario of roaring slogans of political parties and hot debates on various issues, I want to drive your attention to yet another serious issue and that is the environmental degradation in Chitral. Chitral, a remote district of Pakistan, once or may be still is famous for picturesque landscape and breathtaking natural beauty of its valleys, is now losing its charm! One of the reasons is the rise in pollution especially at the ‘heart’ of the district. A number of actions that, in general, appear to be ineffective, are collectively making a slow but, nevertheless, serious impact on the overall outlook of the city. Although, the non-custom paid vehicles brought illegally from Afghanistan have made life easier and served as means of livelihood for some, yet on the other hand, they have made life harder for pedestrians and have turned the once walkable roads into a horrible messy scene of traffic jams where all you can breathe in is nothing, but smoke and dust!! There seem to be more pieces of metals running on the roads than humans! As a result of no parking areas, vehicles are parked anywhere, causing great traffic chaos. When you walk through the main bazaar, there is a fine chance of loosing your consciousness due to excessive smoke and dust inhalation, thus getting smashed by the crowd or maybe slammed by a car! While crossing the road is the most difficult task, as you have to engage both of your eyes on either sides of the one-way road simultaneously, the situation becomes more intense when a siren type of horn by a monster truck strikes on your sensitive eardrums, causing pain!! In addition to this, your sensory organs are tested by the fumes released by garbage all around. The ‘eye-catching’ view of litter and overflowing drains adds its own special effects to the surroundings! However, it must be noted that the situation is definitely not like this if you go out of the district center (Chitral Town) or main Chitral. But it is always the district center that makes the very first impression of the whole area!! The uncovered/unprotected drainage system has become an easy means for everyone to dispose of waste materials. All toxic substances/pollutants from hospitals to service stations, from markets to residential areas, are thrown into the drains which eventually flow into the river, causing huge amount of pollution, destroying the marine life as well. Due to this practice, heaps of pollutants can be found anywhere especially by the river. Unfortunately, the people still seem to be unaware or pretending to be unaware of the harsh consequences, as they themselves are the main polluters, injecting tons of pollutants into the water, air and soil on daily basis! Similarly, the massive amount of deforestation adds more fuel to the problem. The issue here is, as mentioned above, the lack of honest, competent and dutiful people in concerned offices. Besides, the residents are equally blamable for their irresponsible and indifferent attitude towards the matter. Both the parties should take it serious before it gets out of hand and work side-by-side to, at least, decrease the level of pollution if not finish it! Actions on individual levels should be taken like why throw a wrapper on land, instead keep it in your pocket until you reach home and burn it. Our little efforts can together play a vital role in transforming Chitral into a green and clean district of Pakistan. The government needs to act and supervise everything as a responsible body. Without any support from government and non-government agencies, the people alone cannot solve environmental issues and others. There must be a check on everything, whether the matter is excessive deforestation, inflow of illegal vehicles, upkeep of drainage system and roads or the cleaning and disposing of wastes/pollutants. In short, all possible measures should be taken in order to control pollution and provide a healthy environment for the locals and tourists to enjoy the healthy environment. The role of nature is that of mother. As mother feeds her child, likewise we feed on planet earth and we need to take care of it as our mother, or else, get ready to face the severe consequences!]]>

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