Fading splendor of Swat valley
By Miangul Abdullah
Swat valley is vulnerable to perpetual losses at various scenic spots, which are on the verge of culmination in many of its aspects.
Susceptible to various contaminations, these resorts have lost its past grandeur and what the remaining, which have become a shadow of its former self.
Some of the endangered spots have moved the point of no return. Whereas in several others reversal is still a possibility but it is a far off cry due to the lack of interest in them.
One of such spots is Chino Baba. Situated at Kanju area of Tehsil Kabal, the picturesque resort gets its name after springs of water and with a saint buried there.
“Chino” is a local Pashto term derived from “Chiney”, which means fountains of water and “Baba” describes a saint.
As the name suggests, the resort was once full of springs and thick forests. The water from the springs formed a stream in the middle of marshy fields a long way to meet the river Swat at the lower end with its charming view to fascinate the viewers. In short, the resort was blessed with a model ecosystem in the form of abundant water resources and greener pastures—sprawling paddy fields and bunches of flowers.
In summer season, people flocked to the resort. Children in wild excitement jumped into marshes from nearby trees and played in its mud. They then gathered to the natural swimming pools at the stream and plummeted in and out in its crystal clear water.
The weary peasants after working in paddy fields also came to join them. They took a bath and drank from the cold water of the fountains out of the palms of their hands and breathed deeply in gratitude to acknowledge the ultimate Creator for this special gift.
Furthermore, the marshy land offered a variety of stuff to its dwellers and other aquatic lives with its sweet water, thick bushes and trees of various kinds. It provided them food/fruits and shelter. The locals caught fishes in its water and collected various kinds of fruits and wood. They also came for hunting and enjoying picnics at weekends.
This home of springs, surrounded by gardens and lush green hills and a canal on the upper side and the river Swat flowing at the lower end, gradually fell victim to contaminations in various forms.
Latrines water accompanying other effluents from nearby areas brought an unfortunate end to the purity of the stream water. The rest was done by waste marble powder.
Taking undue advantage of the water resources, marble factories mushroomed in the area. The waste marble powder (WMP) in large patches directly entered the precious water resources and accumulated in the stream therefrom.
Thus bringing an end to the natural swimming pools and the fishes or other aquatic lives got vanished. The marble powder buried them down to end their lives forever.
Gone are the days a gesture of happiness covered the length of faces of children as they dipped into the swimming pools. The wild lovers heaved a sigh of relief from tenacious grip of life when they tended to unwind themselves by submerging into the depth of nature. They drank from the rejuvenated sounds and sights and became one with nature.
Although this home of springs was safe from environmental degradation for a long time due to the nature of the land being marshy to resist constructions. However, the marble factories provided a base for constructions by filling the water resources.
Remnants of mega flora and fauna were shoved violently towards extinction. Birds and insects number continued to plummet and aquatic life dwindled.
Thus the unfiltered marble powder produced as a byproduct in tons and remain undisposed due to lack of innovative techniques to recycle them has imposed serious threats to the ecosystem, physical, chemical and biological components of environment.
Without its proper disposal, the resulting stockpiles also resulted into less productivity of the land due to decreased porosity, water absorption and water percolation etc.
Under the threat of massive extinctions by the challenges of increasing human activities and the pressure to destroy the natural habitat for logging or other monetary gains, conservation is a struggle now at the resort, which is breathing its last.
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