top of page
Search

Kashmir - A Sustainable Paradise

Updated: Jan 20

Jammu and Kashmir, the picturesque heaven on Earth is not spared from the wrath of climate change. They grapple with severe environmental degradation, largely attributed to human activities like deforestation, vehicular pollution, and industrialization, resulting in pollution and biodiversity loss. According to a study, approximately 14,000 hectares of forest area have been encroached upon, constituting just 10.46% of the region.

Image Courtesy: Mohd. Rashid, Pixabay


Jammu and Kashmir, the picturesque heaven on Earth is not spared from the wrath of climate change. They grapple with severe environmental degradation, largely attributed to human activities like deforestation, vehicular pollution, and industrialization, resulting in pollution and biodiversity loss. According to a study, approximately 14,000 hectares of forest area have been encroached upon, constituting just 10.46% of the region.


Water pollution with human and animal waste disposal degrading the water quality, and shrinking water bodies have become significant concerns. Glacial melting adversely impacts food, water, and energy sectors, a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage. The region, deemed as an "eco-fragile zone," faces challenges from global warming, unplanned urbanization, and encroachment on water bodies, as outlined in the J&K Environmental Policy, 2018. Addressing these issues necessitates widespread environmental education for ecological restoration.


However, on the other hand, we have with us Sheezana Rasool from Kashmir, who has beautifully narrated that despite all the challenges, Kashmir also has a sustainable facet.


Let’s hear more from Sheezan.

 

“Agar firdaus bar-rū-e-zamīñ ast hamīñ ast o hamīñ ast o hamīñ ast”

― Amir Khusrau


Around the 13th century, a famous Persian poet said of Kashmir, "If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this." This statement still holds true even today and is reverberated by the travelers who come to experience nature in its most exquisite form in the center of the Himalayas. We live in the 21st century where technology, bioweapons and artificial intelligence is trending. Climate change is happening and people adapting more sustainable ways of living is the only way we can lessen the human made burden on the environment.


Images' Courtesy: Author


Some of the Kashmir's cultural and traditional practices are enduring and could serve as models for other cultures to adopt. Of the total population of Jammu and Kashmir state, around 72.62% live in rural areas (Census 2011). Therefore, agriculture takes the front seat in terms of occupation besides other sources of earning. Consequently, most of the households have a kitchen garden also.


This reduces the visits to the market and makes one shop less which is one of the best sustainability examples in everyday life. However, the climate change has affected the Kashmir’s Agriculture industry is no less than others.




Images' Courtesy: Author


With reduction in rainfall, the rain-fed agriculture will suffer the most. Horticultural crops like apple are also showing decline in production and a real coverage particularly due to decline in snowfall thermal stress effects, on livestock productivity has its effects.


Nearly 1 million families are associated with Kashmir's $1.25-million apple industry as per a study. This major industry in the area has suffered a serious setback due to an almost 30% fall in apple production, leaving farming families with enormous debts (climate change imperils Kashmiri apples, 18 august 2022, DW).


Image Courtesy: Author


Vulnerability Profiling and Climate Sensitivity along with climate change projections of the J&K needs to be undertaken for better understanding of the climate issues confronting J&K. Weddings are an integral part of every society. The event generally involves several hundred to thousand people. Aah, we cannpt miss our favourite Wazwaan!!



Image Courtesy: Author


Therefore, making weddings sustainable is equally important. Fortunately, Kashmiri weddings are as sustainable as they are lavish. Owing to our Persian ancestor Syed Ali Hamdani all the meals in a Kashmiri wedding are served in a traditional Trami which is a big round copper plate in which four people eat together (Copper Crafts: Traditional Kashmiri Utensils, march 16 2022, Nation First). This eliminates the need for disposables and can be used repeatedly after washing.


Image Courtesy: Author


Even in homes food is served in copper utensils only. Plates, bowls, jugs, glasses, spoons etc. everything is made from copper and used from one generation to another. This reduces the need for shopping because they are immune to breakage and spoilage and passed on from one generation to another. Another example of a sustainable culture from Kashmir is the local bread called ‘cxhouth’ that is consumed by the people of Kashmir. Every lane in Kashmir has its own bread maker who is called a ‘Kaandur’. Fresh bread is prepared every day and consumed by the people in same day. As a result, people do not consume the packaged breads therefore considerably reducing the need for plastic packaging.


In fact, all the bakery in Kashmir which includes different types of kulchas, baker khani, biscuits, etc. is locally made and sold as such without any packaging while maintaining the hygiene and food safety. We rely a lot on local produces, locally transported and local vendors; hence adding to carbon neutrality/ net zero approach. Consequently, less preservation, refrigeration, packaging, disposal, etc. is required. People therefore favour locally produced, freshly manufactured goods over those that are packaged.


In fact, it's unusual to see a Kashmiri purchasing a packet of bread. In our daily lives there is so much that we can do to save our environment and our dear planet by making informed choices about the same. The idea of sustenance simply means everyone is taken care of.


Image Courtesy: Author


By thinking equally about the interests of our own selves and those we think we have nothing to do with we can promise a better future for us and those who would come from us in the times to come. The ecosystem that sustains us is a combination of things which functions when every part is right in its place.


By taking care of some other component we are actually taking care of our own selves and that’s the beauty of nature ‘You are receiving what you are giving away’.


Ms. Sheezana Rasool



About the Author

Sheezana Rasool is an agricultural scientist pioneering change at the nexus of science, women's health, and social activism, particularly in conflict-ridden areas like her native Kashmir. Armed with an M.Sc in Agricultural Sciences, she employs cutting-edge technologies to revolutionize farming in South Asian countries facing climate vulnerabilities. Ms. Sheezana passionately dismantles barriers hindering women's progress in marginalized communities.


Coming from Kashmir, she understands the impact of socio-political instability, especially on women. Her journey began with a vision to turn adversity into opportunity, implementing innovative farming techniques to enhance crop yields and environmental sustainability in conflict zones.


Beyond agriculture, Ms. Sheezana advocates fiercely for menstrual health in regions where such conversations are often silenced. Recognizing the challenges faced by women in conflict zones, she demystifies menstrual health, providing hygiene resources, benefiting nearly 500,000 women and challenging cultural taboos.


In 2017, Ms. Sheezana founded the non-profit "Agaaz International," leading initiatives for women's empowerment in minority groups, tribals, and border residents. Through education, vocational training, and healthcare programs, the organization fosters self-reliance and resilience, narrowing the gender gap. Under her leadership, Agaaz International has made significant strides, empowering women to become community leaders through partnerships and grassroots efforts. Sheezana Rasool's story illustrates the transformative power of merging scientific expertise with a commitment to social justice.


Her impact extends globally, inspiring change because she believes that every life must matter, irrespective of religion, creed, or gender.



References


 

157 views0 comments

Comentarios


bottom of page