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Kashmiri scholar gets DAIDA foundation award for research on Srinagar khuls

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A Kashmir student at Jamia Millia Islamia University has been awarded the 2020 Global Urban Thesis Award by Netherlands based DAIDA foundation for his research on water management and traditional water systems (Khul) in Srinagar city.

Syed Suhaib Naqshbandi is among the four who have been awarded for their research around the year’s theme of water and development.

 

He shares his award with Jui Yi Hung of KU Leuven University in Belgium.

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Suhaib’s research focuses on re-establishing the linkages of water-system in Srinagar City. The research delineates the traditional water systems in Srinagar, and how “the same evolved as the indigenous mechanism of flood control across Valley of Kashmir.”

“Traditional Adaptive landscape strategies of; linking the different water bodies by digging waterways locally called as (Khuls) and reserving land parcels to act as wetland during high water yield, has evolved as the indigenous mechanism of flood control across Valley of Kashmir,” reads the explanatory note about Suhaib’s research on the website of Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (HIS), Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The Award, according to the website, aims to acknowledge and support master graduates who, through their work, help improve the urban infrastructure and living conditions for vulnerable groups in the rapidly growing cities of developing economies.

Here is the complete note about Suhaib’s research:

The Sustainable Development Goal for reducing water related natural disasters requires integrated and heuristic approaches considering traditional practices related to water management, use of scientific advancements and emphasis on human –water linkages. Traditional Adaptive landscape strategies of; linking the different water bodies by digging waterways locally called as (Khuls) and reserving land parcels to act as wetland during high water yield, has evolved as the indigenous mechanism of flood control across Valley of Kashmir, India. The vernacular tradition of adapting water in the landscape has also resulted in developing intricate human relationship with water which allowed Srinagar capital city of Kashmir to emerge as distinct culture and economically prosperous civilization in the past. The manifestation of this past wisdom, in the shape numerous waterways (Khuls) are being converted into roads for increased mobility needs today. In this study, events of change in natural hydrology and their latter impacts were correlated by preparing chronological timeline, also spatiotemporal changes in water bodies and wetlands were assessed using Topographic maps from 1900-2011. Major events of disturbance in natural hydrology were found, the conversion of historical water stream (Markhul) into vehicular road in 1975 was observed to have laid serious ecological, social and economic impacts. The area of wetlands in Srinagar alone has significantly reduced from 54897acres in 1900 to 9000 acres in 2020, the spatial extent of freshwater bodies has reduced from 9970acres in 1900 to 6246acresin 2020.It is concluded that by restoring historical water streams (khuls) and fostering human-water relationship resilience towards floods and water woes can be achieved, the vision developed during this project can help develop framework to achieve goals of SDG 13: Climate action.