By KARIM MOHAMMAD KHAN
In Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) fresh air, fruits, vegetables, lush green fields, gigantic mountains, spectacular glaciers, crystal clear water gushing from unsullied lakes and vivid skies are definitely the bounties of nature for the mountain communities as well as for the tourists from inland and abroad. Some of the places of GB are indeed stunning and gorgeous and are not less than paradise for nature lovers as they would immensely feel ecstasy being with nature. And in this regard, John Keats once said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” But unfortunately, with fast growing population, development works and influx of tourists into the region; the areas are being littered and polluted with solid wastes. Some of the common pollutants are wrappers, rubbers, glasses, fruit skins, plastic shopping bags, piece of papers, bottles, metals and empty beverage containers which are thrown unscrupulously after usage. In addition, wall chalking particularly during election times is also general practice in GB and that is also a kind of pollution. In some areas, the land is excavated for construction work as well.
One of the main causes of land pollution is lack of civic sense on how to protect the environment from being polluted due to which unnecessary consumption of different products particularly edible items and usage of beverage are on the rise and their wastes, litters and rubbishes are lying on ground and at times are blown out here and there in the wind.
The effects of these pollutants are very adverse on human health, environment and aesthetics of the areas. For instance, in some remote villages of GB, the dwellers still use canal water filled with solid wastes which causes different water born diseases like diarrhoea. In addition, drainage system gets chocked causing sanitation problems for the residents of the area and sometimes their cattle die after eating garbage. Rubbishes are also seen on the foot hills of pastures and meadows as mountaineers, shepherds, picnickers and miners take food items with them and leave its containers and wrappers there by making the surrounding unpleasant.
To manage solid wastes in GB, certain steps need to be taken. For example, mass awareness programme is to be launched frequently in villages in which environment friendly slogans and messages have to be written on play cards and banners along with cleanliness drive. Schools, colleges and universities should hold functions and walks on environment related issues through speeches, model, and project work, drawing and painting competitions. Besides, the idea of “3Rs” like reduce, reuse and recycle of waste materials should also be introduced and circulated to the masses far and wide.
In addition, municipal committee is to be mobilized in sweeping bazaar areas, removing heap of garbage and dispose them at distance places. Shopkeepers must be compelled to keep dustbins and use them regularly so that after consumption any edible and other waste materials may not be thrown on the road and in streets by customers. Domestic rubbishes should also be incinerated or ground filled.
Finally, to have checks and control on spreading solid wastes, provincial and local government should mobilize their resources frequently. Moreover, committees need to be formed in every village on voluntary basis that could monitor and watch different localities to ensure the condition of cleanliness in the surrounding.