Crisis of water management in Kashmir

Crisis of water management in Kashmir

There is gross mismanagement of water in Jammu and Kashmir and more so in Kashmir valley. Though Kashmir Valley is known for having abundant ground water resources of good quality by virtue of being underground and protected from any kind of surface water contamination, but the poor management pollutes the water taped for drinking purposes. Drilling of more and more tube wells not only creates pathways for abstraction but also pathways for contamination if tube wells are not sealed for sanitary protection. Most of tube wells are poorly designed and constructed, and are located near dirty nallahs, canal and ponds and are vulnerable to contamination. Many canals in Kashmir have virtually become foul smelling gutters and dirty water from them can easily seep into these drinking water tube wells posing health hazard to the water consumer. The threat is not only from bacteriological contamination but also from chemical contamination from fertilizers and pesticides used in farming. The problem is not of water scarcity but man made water crisis due to bad and poor management of water. Basically water management in Public Health Engineering department is supplying the people potable water which is wholesome, in adequate quantity, of good quality, at adequate pressure and when and where it is needed and then collecting used water, treating it to acceptable quality standards, reusing it, disposing it safely.

Not only does safe drinking water sustain individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities, it is one of the most essential requirements for supporting commerce. All people appreciate having safe drinking water, but sometimes it is taken for granted. We recognize the worth of water when the well is dry, or it no longer flows readily, or when the quality of our drinking water changes.

In Jammu and Srinagar the job of supplying water is done by PHED having separate ministry, the job of collecting is done by UEED/SMC or JMC which are under separate ministry. The department at the service delivery level like PHED / UEED/ SMC or JMC are managed by the graduate/diploma civil engineers who have elementary knowledge of public health engineering and mechanical engineers who do not know anything about public health engineering and are entrusted the job because pumps are used in the water systems. There are few in service engineers who have acquired post graduation and have specialized in PHE/EE at the cost of government exchequer as in service engineers but Jammu & Kashmir government does not need them in PHED/ UEED and they are posted in department not related to their specialization. This is just one example of mismanagement. A recent comprehensive review of forty years of World Bank experience in water and sanitation pin points, “institutional failure as the most frequent and persistent cause of poor performance by public water utilities. The World Health Organization expert committee has already pointed out common fallacy that environmental sanitation services in underdeveloped countries can be planned and executed by persons having little or no skill. There must be development of public health engineering in collaboration with other professional discipline required for the study and planning of an environmental sanitation works, to find simple and economical sanitary methods for field application. Without such an approach, wasteful and ineffective methods may be employed which actually will cause irreparable damage. The less developed a country, the more complex is the task of solving its environmental problem. Public Health Engineers are assumed to have a broad and thorough understanding of the whole range of environmental conditions that effect human well being, to be well qualified by aptitude, training and experience to serve as true professionals at the various levels of responsibility relating to the environment in public health and associated organizations and in the upper echelons to be able to take their place alongside their counterparts in other professions in assuming responsible administrative duties and other public health functions. The expert committee report says,” the assumption, perhaps too widely made, that underdeveloped regions are not prepared for the services of best trained specialists in environmental sanitation can readily be contested. Countries of minimum resource are most in need of highest expert services available, both for diagnosis of need and for planning of solutions. The relegation of these functions to less adequately prepared persons results form a great misunderstanding of the complexity of the problems in environmental sanitation encountered in areas of low economical level. These problems for their solutions require the impact of high intelligence, training and experience even when the number of persons possessing such qualification is necessarily a minimum. It is unsound practice literally to send a boy to do a man’s job. Regarding developing nations the World development report 1992 points out, “Public Water utilities are the key elements of patronage system, overstaffing is often rife and appointments to senior positions are frequently made on the basis of political connections rather than merit. It further states that,” engineering of public works is dominated by bureaucracies, employment security is total, promotions are by seniority alone, good work goes unrecognized, poor work is not subjected to sanctions and an atmosphere of lethargy prevails. The direct consequence is construction at high cost, low qualities facilities; the indirect effects include big non professional labor force”. There is nothing more important to sustaining human existence than water—specifically, pure and safe water to drink. Communities thrive because of their water supply. Not only does safe drinking water sustain individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities, it is one of the most essential requirements for supporting commerce. All people appreciate having safe drinking water, but sometimes it is taken for granted. We recognize the worth of water when the well is dry, or it no longer flows readily, or when the quality of our drinking water changes.

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