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Deforestation causing disasters -Letter


According to a scientific research, it is predicted that swathes of glaciers in the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas and the Karakorum are retreating due to an average increase in the atmospheric temperature. Chitral, located in the midst of the Hindu Kush and Hindu Raj mountain range, contains more than 22 vast stretching glaciers with an average length of 10 k ms each. The famous Chianter stretching over an area of 32 km- length is the largest one from where the River Chitral emanates.

One of the key factors in the retreat of glaciers and the consequent flooding is attributed to the cutting of trees on a large scale, which are the moderators of the atmospheric temperature as they produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Shockingly, the total area covered by forests in Chitral is just approximately 2% of the total mountainous land which is abysmally low and quite alarming. The reason behind this pathetic situation is the cutting down of trees for the purposes of construction and fuel. To add, timber mafia has also ravished the area of its forest resource smuggling woods out of the district putting the life the inhabitants in a great jeopardy.

This unabated ravishing of forests in Chitral has led to soil erosion, land-sliding and devastating floods. Several villages were washed away by floods over the past few years; the case in point is the picturesque Sonoghar valley devastated as a result of the burst of the overhanging glacial lake. The danger looms large on the horizon if preventive measures are not taken to preserve the forest resources in Chitral. It is encouraging to train thousands of youngsters to deal with the unpredictable catastrophes but it is also equally important to do something tangible and practical for the preservation of trees which will have a salutary effect on the environment at large.

The most important measure that comes to mind at this point is to make for the deficiency in the forest resource of Chitral by launching campaign for plantation in the areas which are lying barren. The student community should be taken on board for this purpose as a sign of volunteerism. The community organizations and the experts in the relevant field should visit the educational institutions to educate the youngsters with regard to the environmental degradation and the way-out for its preservation. They should be tasked with mission to plant more and more trees in their individual capacity. The well established organization should facilitate them in this regard.

Notwithstanding, efforts should be made at the higher level to import natural gas from Tajikistan which is the biggest reservoir of natural gas and is contiguous to Chitral geographically. The problem of fuel can also be overcome utilizing the abundant water resource for the purpose of power generation. It is pertinent to mention that Chitral has a capacity of power generation up to 4500mwatts. The indifference of government towards utilizing this facility is beyond understanding despite the fact that power-deficit in the country has crossed 3000 mwatts. Moreover, restrictions should be placed on the use of wood for manufacturing and construction purposes. Rather, metal should be used as an alternative.

As it goes, "Better late than never". We the people of Chitral should rise to the occasion because the post-Lawary scenario will present a different picture to show. What scares us is the man-made catastrophe and we should make tangible efforts to fend-off its adverse effects and join the global community in their efforts to combat global warming which is also impacting Chitral because of its location enveloped by the glaciated mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and the Hindu Raj.

Khalid Pervaiz,
Booni, Chitral

09 May 2010.



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