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High altitude sports threat to environment


Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

Love of sports has been a widespread craze all over Chitral especially among the Khowar speaking population and it runs even in winters when there is no snow  and this aspect of our culture has been observed and criticized by our neighbours as well as foreigners.

Many sport lovers have turned their cultivable plots into mini playgrounds in the low altitude settlements and hold tournaments there to charge fee and it has become a source of income despite the price hike of essential commodities.

In summers this craze is taken after each Eid or so to higher playgrounds. In fact when Chitrali sees a flat piece of ground he thinks to turn it into a play ground even if it lies at great height. The Shandur Polo festival is one of the well known ones which was doubled a few years back by holding another at Boroghil and then at Kaghlasht, damaging the soft soil to be carried away to the nearby mountains by winds. Polo is a part of our culture but polo tournaments at Chitral and Kaghlasht are enough to keep it alive.

 In the higher altitudes play grounds the  winds blow round the clock and the dust and toxic gases from the vehicles is thus carried away to distant glaciers that deposits on the snow and the rate of melting accelerates during day time when sun shines.  More play grounds have been added to this number such as the sports tournaments at the Ghari of Khot, at Razdan introduced this year, the proposed sports competition at Ovir pass (above 4000m) at Brez and at many other places. This high altitude sport competitions destroy the soft soil and the winds blows away the fine dust to distant glaciers which surround the whole of Chitral.

Environmentally these high altitude sports are fatal for our fragile ecology and hastens the thawing  of the glaciers rapidly. The administration has to be environmentally educated and NOCs not issued to the aspiring youth who neglect their studies all summer and waste their time, money and energies round the year beside other issues to their health such as injuries and threat to their eyes. No sport tournament be allowed above a height of 3000m ( 10000 ft.) As at that height and above in addition to sports competitions the Gujoor tribes graze  and over graze the pastures and the thin layer of soil  under the feet of flocks gets more fine and easier for winds to blow far away and destroy the glaciers speedily and causes harm to environment beside other threat to flora and fauna by the same herders.

This sports activity has to be bridled in the best interest of the youth and Chitrali society in the wider scale.  We have to encourage education and better studies and discourage wastage of time and our poor resources for our future.

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