This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Amar Saeed. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Along With Political Unrest, Kashmiris Are Also Battling Rapid Climate Change

More from Amar Saeed

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

I woke up to bone-chilling temperatures on a cold January morning this year and looked outside the window, to realise that Srinagar was covered by a thick blanket of snow.

There was no electricity for the heating equipment to work; no water as the pipelines were frozen. The only protection left was a pheran (a traditional outfit made of wool) and a kangri (a small pot filled with charcoal used for keeping warm).

Representational image.

It ended up becoming a four-day-long spell of heavy snowfall, and it was soon declared a state-specific natural calamity under the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) norms. The Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only road that connects Kashmir with the country, was shut off for seven days. Airport operations were also suspended during this period. 

Change In Weather Patterns

The change in weather patterns is a part of climate change that can be seen in Kashmir. It leads to the disruption of the lives of Kashmiri people, impacts local businesses, and damages the agricultural crops of the valley. An increase in natural disasters is another part of climate change, recently witnessed in the form of the Kashmir floods of 2014.

Moreover, in 2016, the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) stated that Kashmir had witnessed a rise in temperature of 1.45°C over the last two decades. This rise in temperatures is melting the glaciers of Kashmir, which might lead to a scarcity of water and a decrease in crop productivity in the coming years.

An impact of climate change on the tribal and nomadic communities of the region is the increased risk during their migration due to the rise in landslides and cloudbursts and increase of invasive species, which is affecting them, as their flocks are getting sick and dying of idiopathic (diseases of unknown origins) causes. 

Unsustainable Development In The Valley

Environment and development are always at odds in places of great tourist interest like Kashmir. This conflict has worsened since the removal of Article 370 and the central government taking over the politics of Kashmir.

As Anmol Ohri, founding director of environmental organisation, Climate Front, said, “Central authorities don’t have to live here. Their priority will always be development, not sustainable development.” 

The new land laws of Kashmir give complete control of the land to the central government, which means that the locals have no safety nets in the form of state laws or local politicians having a say in what happens to the land.

Under these laws, agricultural lands can be sold to a non-agriculturist by an authorised officer. This will have serious implications on the farming community as well as the environment of Kashmir like change in soil pattern and decrease in the quality of agricultural produce.  

Under these new laws, the government has allowed the armed forces to take over land in Kashmir after declaring it as “strategic”. Once the land is taken over, all decisions regarding construction and use of the land are taken away from the local authorities.

This is bound to place the ecosystem in danger because of the clearance of forest cover and unchecked development on fragile land. 

Ohri summed up the situation by saying, Exploitation has been normalised by the media and the people in power.” This can be seen via the “development-oriented” acts and laws passed by the Indian government in Kashmir.

They will lead to increased loss of forest cover, change in soil pattern and damage to agricultural produce, and increased natural disasters like floods and landslides. 

The Glaciers Are Melting 

A research conducted by Shakil Romshoo and others, on the “implications of glacier shrinkage under climate change on the streamflow of Lidder catchment in the upper Indus basin”, showed that due to a rise in average temperature, the glacier surface area in the basin is depleting at a rapid rate.

Representational image.

This is causing the proportion of snow to decrease and rainfall to increase, which leads to a change in weather patterns. As the glacial surface area keeps decreasing, it causes a decrease in stream flow which is predominantly fed by snow and the melting of glaciers.

Professor Romshoo wrote in the paper: “The declining stream flows have the potential to adversely affect agriculture, energy production, tourism and even domestic water supplies.”

Global warming in Kashmir is leading to the rapid melting of glacier mass, which is an important part of the ecosystem. Melting of glaciers is causing significant change in weather patterns, flash floods and agricultural damage.  

Increase Of Invasive Species 

Kashmir has also seen a rise in invasive plant species due to global warming. Afreen Faridi, an expert on the tribes of Kashmir said, “These are weeds that are eaten by the flock, which causes poisoning and it can lead to death in some cases,” as we discussed this aspect of climate change in Kashmir and its impacts on the tribal communities here.

Another impact is the decreased quality of pastures due to increased temperature, which leads to decline in the quality of wool and meat. Faridi also mentioned freak weather patterns and natural disasters” such as cloud bursts and flash floods, that harm both the flock and the nomads during their migration

These are just some of the factors under climate change that impacts the ecosystem of Kashmir. A state that is constantly under political turmoil is now battling another monster i.e. rapid climate change.

I am sure that most of you understand that clearing of the forest cover, control over the agricultural land and the uncontrolled industrialisation in Kashmir, is done under the pretext of “development”.

A Step Towards Sustainable Development

To start a journey towards sustainable development we need to rethink the meaning of development and its characteristics. Policy and lawmakers need to switch from the current, linear, economic model to a circular, economic model.

The linear model primarily focuses on taking a natural resource and turning it into a product, that is ultimately destined to become waste because of the way it has been designed. On the other hand, the circular model focuses on manufacturing products that are reusable.

Circular economy is a system that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.

Apart from this, local policymakers and climate experts need to be included in administrative roles that focus on forming land and environment laws. Also, regulatory bodies need to be set in place to control the use of the ecosystem of Kashmir under the pretext of development.

To quote Ohri, “We are not against development, we just want the development to be sustainable, so that people living here are not impacted adversely.”

Featured image is for representational purposes only. All images have been clicked and provided by the author.
Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program
You must be to comment.
  1. Afrah Asif

    Really engaging and well-written!

More from Amar Saeed

Similar Posts


By Chitra Rawat

By Krithiga Narayanan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below