Mega projects, high explosives and ecosystem

By Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

The world that we inherited from our forefathers was not a developed one but at the same time it was also not so toxic and dangerous as we have made it today and for the generations to come. The threat of global warming is heading at an accelerating pace and may erupt in near future according to the reports that are being issued by scientists.

I am not a scientist but I read some of the material from time to time and each time get alarmed and look around me at the flora and fauna and each time see some change in the environment, either in bird population, flowers, wild life, crops and fruits and so many other things around me. The ecology is changing and has already got out of the beaten track.

The rains have changed their timing. The clouds fail to rain in the traditional way. The hen fails to hatch eggs. The vegetables fail to fructify. There are much more earthworms in the cultivated plots that eat the roots of the crops. The flies eat up the leaves of the trees. The pesticides don’t kill the pests and things like these are modern phenomenon.

Students of science know that chemicals are used in most of the food that we eat and toxic material is denser now in the air that we inhale and affects our breathing organs that cause diseases. All this is being attributed to over use of high explosives in mega projects. In our case this began in the construction of KKH followed by Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In both of them millions of tons of high explosives were used and the harmful poisonous compounds spread in the air all over the region and destroyed the purity of the air that we inhale.

Other mega projects followed such as tunnels for hydal power houses and thermal power houses using coal and diesel or other liquid fuels. The tunnels for hydal stations spread from Hazara to Chitral that use high explosives, the Lowari tunnel, the Golen Gol hydal power house tunnel, Lavi tunnel and dozens of more in the pipe line such as the Shoghor – Seen Lasht tunnel, the Shushgal – Zhondoli proposed tunnel, the Laspur – Miragram tunnel are some of them to begin in near future that will use thousands of tons of high explosive and this will turn the air into pure poison and unfit for breathing for all kind of creatures. Who can resist such a situation? The use of high explosive be banned and some other way of digging channels be introduced in the best interest of humanity.

Since this scenario is a matter of concern for humans and many informative old men told us in a private meeting that in the days of H.H. Shujaul Mulk, the excavation of orpiment was in full swing in the Alikot mines of lower Terich valley of upper Chitral where the dust  shaped red powder from the pits was thrown  as useless which in fact was sulpher and there was a great heap of that matter  around the pits after long years of mining when in one summer  by inadvertence of the workers, it caught fire and the poisonous gas from the smoke continued for many weeks which spread all over the valley and within weeks all the tree leaves died, birds died, crops faded and sagged and life became paralyzed. The flora also dried up and everything green turned pale and dried. The gas had done it to all ecology. It was a great disaster for the inhabitants of the valley. It means we are heading towards a great disaster and unless precautionary measures are taken the disaster cannot be averted.

The environmental agencies are requested to work harder for creating awareness and make the construction companies bound to take strict measures not to spoil the environment and also ask the donors like ADB and individual investors to abide by the rules of Kyoto Convention. They must also educate the coming generation by including a chapter in the text books from school level up to B.A. level about environmental threats that modern age has ushered in.


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