Save Nature, Save Nahre Zainageer

Background

The Nahre Zainageer (Baedth Koul) which is the incredible gift inherited from our fore fathers. Its origin is from the famous Wular Lake which is the famous picnic spot though the major portion of it is under the control of Indian Navy and the entry is restricted. The Nahre Zainageer is also the tributary of the river Jehlum. From its origin Nahre Zainageer irrigates miles of hectares of rice fields and the apple orchards on which the economy of Sopore depends. Due to the blessings of this canal Sopore is also called the apple town of Kashmir. This canal also has the historical significance, it is said to be originally constructed by the famous engineer of Lalitaditya known as Suya though we don’t have literary sources to prove it, but the town built by him Suyapur presently known as Sopore was mentioned by the Kalhana in his book Rajatarangni.

Later in the Sultanate period also known as the Muslim period when Badhshah (Zainul Abidin) was ruling the Kashmir the canal was renovated and further extended. This is not just one canal it’s the network of channels and streams. It runs through the mountain ranges from its origin up to the village of Pazalpora which was once the famous  picnic spot also (again in control of Indian Army). The stunning thing is that gravity plays its role in flowing of water and rate of discharge at each connection is constant.

Zainul Abidin also built a town in his name called Zinageer which is still known in the same name and also the Islands in the Wular lake known as Zinalank. The canal was also called Nahre Zainageer then. During the Dogra rule people were not allowed to walk on the banks of canal with pin sole shoes so was the respect and care of the canal.

Monologue by Nahre Zainageer

I have seen this beautiful valley for several centuries, its ups and downs, rise and fall, sorrows and happiness, several droughts and floods and eventually I have become an integral part of everything that happens in this splendid valley. I am “Zaingeer Canal”. Some call me Nahre Zainageer and some Baedth Koul. Let me narrate to you my own tale.

I will always be grateful to Sultan Zain-ul- Abideen who got complete Kashmir’s irrigation and canal system re engineered and brought me also to existence in my present form. I am considered one of the cherished establishments and an incredible gift of the Sultan after whom I was named. It has been more than five hundred years since my construction and even now people remember the sultan and me in folklore together. When people work in their paddy fields or in apple orchards, I can hear all men and women singing together and relating me to Sultan and thanking him for the prosperity brought upon them by virtue of my existence.

I originate at the junction of Bonar and Madhumati River, a tributary of the famous Wular Lake, in Sonarwain in Bandipura district. Being the most important source of irrigation, I have been serving entire Zaingeer belt for livelihood for centuries. From the point of my origin, I have been irrigating hectares of rice fields and the beautiful apple orchards on which the economy of Sopore predominantly depends upon. Locals in this belt consider me a blessing and it makes me feel proud to hear that Sopore is called the apple town of Kashmir Valley because of me.
A little about my historical significance – I was originally constructed by the famous engineer known as Suya, who also built the town and named it after him Suyapur presently known as Sopore. Later in the Sultanate period, Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen got me renovated and further extended me. I am not just one entity rather a network of channels and streams. I wander through the mountain ranges from my origin up to Zaingeer town where I enter the beautiful Sopore bowl. At village Botingoo, further sublets of me spread across the entire region of the bowl. The stunning thing about me is that gravity synchronises the flow of my water and rate of discharge at each connection is constant.

Having seen the Sultanate rule, Dogra rule and so many others, it has been an adventurous journey for me. During the Dogra rule people were not allowed to walk on my banks with pin sole shoes so was the respect and care I enjoyed. People have considered me as a fascinating water source and expressed constant gratitude for keeping them alive during the droughts.

My condition has been pathetic and is continuously deteriorating now as people have encroached upon my banks which once stood five meters high and are barely one and half meters now.

But today, I guess, I need a favour in return or rather I wail for help from the very same people who once considered me so sacred. My condition has been pathetic and is continuously deteriorating now as people have encroached upon my banks which once stood five meters high and are barely one and half meters now. The soil of my banks is used in the filling of lands and for construction purposes. I thought I was an everlasting gift to the people, but unfortunately they have changed me to a dumping yard. I choke with waste materials and polythene bags everyday. I am in a state of distress for some years now but very few hear my cries.


Infact, my condition is deteriorating so fast, which is further aggravated by the callous nature of my people and negligent government authorities who are pushing me to the verge of extinction. Making roads along my banks also is adding to my miserable state as they have devastated my beautiful and tender banks. I remember distinctly, during the Dogra monarchy, my repair and renovation was carried out in 1935 and then I was irrigating approximately five thousand hectares of land with renewed vigour. In the course of a 34 km journey from my origin, I have been providing water to a stretch of almost 40 sq km in more than 46 villages, yet today, I stand unattended and neglected.


Only a decade ago, there used to be thousands of mulberry trees along my banks. Now there are no signs of greenery on my banks. It would take a casual stroll along my banks to feel my pain and hear the silent sobs for what my own people have done to me.

My banks were once home to the famous Kashmiri willows. Lack of attention and the carelessness of the concerned authorities and the selfishness of people around, have caused destruction of my densely leaved friends. I used to feed them water and they used to give me fresh and purified air. All these pleasures have been snatched away from me by the very people whom I thought were my children. I was considered an everlasting heritage and people once pledged to protect me, but all have turned a blind eye towards me. If the present condition remains, there will be no Nahre Zaingeer after 10 years and soon after no agriculture and apples.


Alas, when I am gone will the curse befall my near and dear ones, but it will be too late then to restore my past glory and my dearest bounties will wither away. I will still cherish the memories bygone with moist eyes.

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