BY JALAL-UD-DIN SHAH
This river flowing from glaciers of Eastern Pir Panjal, finds its mention in earliest written chronicles of Hindu period as reverted and pious. Takes its origin from the toe of the glaciers from white quartzite rocky surfaces being called as Chatsukouin (colourless sangi safid rock ridge). Thus the name Chatsukull, flows down in the North Eastern direction debouncing in the plains with crystal clear white milky water downstream takes its name as Dudh Ganga (Milky Ganges). Dr. Elmsli( earliest European traveler) calls this river the Chatsukul as it takes its origin and rise near white stone. After leaving rocky crystalline portion it straight way enters into Karewa clay and silty soft rocks. It flows in steep gradient resulting into bed cutting instead of side cutting. Due to this phenomenon this river is less important for irrigation. Lately Arson Garson small dam has streamlined some discharge for limited irrigation and Yusmarg barrage has also supplemented and boosted local irrigation system, slippery silt of water has asphalt lined on the bottom of reservoir. Thus very risky to take bath into it. Some Children lost their lives while doing misadventure of bathing here.
Since Chatsu Kul has no major or minor tributary to add to its discharge. It doesn’t form any potential danger of devastating floods. However, when cloudbursts into catchment and upper reaches cause floods, river roars abnormally. Flood spill channel has been constructed below Chadura, which drops into Jehlum near Narbal. River empties into Jehlum below Chattabal bridge called Bharow Ghat, place was one of the three pious Asthapons at Srinagar for Worship by Kashmiri Pandiths. Over all flow of river was slow and sluggish in normal times, clean water being used for drinking purpose and irrigation. At Ram Bagh Dogra Royal cemeteries are on its right bank, also there are couple of temples or worship places at Magarmal Bagh and Ram Bagh.
As Chattabal river usually used to overflow in peak discharge along left bank which caused to form a back water lagoon and marshy lands for a long distance adjacent to tattoo ground. From Brainwar to Surasya, via Hanjura upto chadura, chanpora to its tail end human settlement has lately contributed to its pollution and great devastation.
Two factors which have life time effected upon the environment and ecology are water filtration plant at Wathura where from portable water is supplied to half a million people and second one is its diversion and bifurcation below Aluchi Bagh to Hokur Sar. Initially sizable portion of discharge was allowed to pass through main natural coarse with a control gauge and gate at Zanpu Kadal and maximum discharge was dropped through a water channel to marshes of Hokersur to develop the migratory bird sanctuary used by Royals for duck shooting. From source to confluence with Jehlum there were a few wooden bridges in habbitated areas only. Main one being between villages of Boru and Kralwari, Chattabal, Chadura,Ram bagh, Batamallo and Magarmal Bagh. One mini power project has been constructed at Brenwar to generate around 12 Megawatt hydro powers from the natural grade as run of the river scheme with limited storage pond. Obviously its tale race water will be utilized for irrigating dry Karewa lands around Brainwar and Sursyar.
Downstream river is now most polluted and health hazardous, devoid of any fauna like fishes etc no water and musk melons are grown on the sides and banks, anymore, nor are beautiful migratory birds spotted. No drives or initiative for cleaning the river for maintaining it as Heritage is in the option of Govt. and people who have encroached its banks have found it as God given dumping and sewerage throwing drain. Dudh Ganga the milky glacier water channel is not available on ground except on topo sheet of geographers, below the bifurcation spot for Hokursar channel.
Thus the river which was supplying Milky White water to suburbs of Srinagar, is now hardly providing silty water through lift stations, its course and bed has become commercial hub as if the reverted river never existed. Monstrous building and shopping complexes make a senior citizen like me mourn, as we had enjoyed angling, duck shooting, bird watching and swimming in it.
Hazrat Sheikh Dawood, Batmoul Sob resting on its left bank at Batamaloo must have watched all developments of his loud river, where he performed mid night ablution. Another spot with religious sanctity was a beautiful bathing Yarbal with Shamshan Bhomi converted now into hub of vendor.Alas ! future generations will curse upon us for this negligence.
Jalal-Ud-Din Shah is an MSc ,LLB, Retd.Geo Scientist.