February 2015 was a month of anguish and triumph for the glorious Saiful-Maluk. Driven by greed and mindlessness, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had immaculately planned the grand destruction of the lake whose serenity and splendor had stood the test of 300,000 years. The newspaper ads of February 10, 2015 sought tenders for building a ‘Chairlift Resort’ at Lake Saiful Maluk. The project was to be spread over 94 kanals and have a lease of 30 years – enough to completely convert this exquisite gift of nature into a huge dump of plastic bottles, empty cans, cigarette packets, wrappers, smoke, dust, litter, and pollution of every conceivable kind.
The peaceful waters of Saiful-Maluk must have heaved a sigh of relief when after the relentless efforts and wise council of friends and well-wishers, the decision to build the ‘Chairlift’ monstrosity was shelved. This was indeed a breath of fresh air for all those interested in preserving the environments and also for those who had become hardened cynics against the possibility of any change for better.
Did we learn any lessons from this incident and will we work towards creating better living spaces for Saiful-Maluk, as well as scores of other similar locations we are blessed with. The best way to move forward and to teach a lesson to all subsequent greedy
The perennial splendor of Saiful Maluk is already on the decline. The increase in tourists and absence of facilities, instructions and management have begun to show signs of plunder. Wrappers, plastics and other leftovers are littered all around the lake and many can now be seen floating on the waters that remained untouched and pure for centuries. With the implementation of the ‘Chairlift’ project, the tourists will now be able to participate in the lake’s destruction by dropping litter bombs from the air. The carbon-emitting noisy generators, obscene gas-guzzling SUVs, junk food restaurants, the never degrading plastic bottles, the security barriers and a crowd in pursuit of ‘selfies’ will define the new Saiful Maluk. Scores of hysteric people clinging to chairs and cables, travelling overhead, would only inflict pain and sorrow to the serene waters of the lake.
The lake needs to be preserved in its perennial form. No vehicles or equipment must be allowed within 8 km radius. On the pattern of Mount Kilimanjaro, the last 6-8 kilometers of track to the lake should be limited to walkers only. Walking could be encouraged by improving the trail and creating rest facilities at every 2 km. Tourists must be strictly forbidden from carrying any food items or throwaways in the last 2 km before the lake.
Saiful-Maluk belongs to the people of Pakistan and their future generations. The greedy contractors, corrupt bureaucrats and mindless politicians have no right to destroy in a few months and forever, the splendor and serenity that has stood the test of 300,000 years. Can the people of Pakistan unite and force the KP government to stop the destructive corporatization of our natural heritage and shelve its sinister “Sell the Saiful-Maluk” scheme.