|“On the Bank of the Ravi: An Historical Geography of Lahore’s River, Problems and Prospects” by Professor James L. Wescoat Jr.
Registration: Open to all.
Date: January 26, 2024
Time: 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Venue: Crescent Model Higher Secondary School, Shadman, Lahore (Girls Campus)
On January 26th, the Khwarizmi Science Society hosted its fourth lecture with Professor Emeritus James L. Wescoat Jr. from MIT. Titled “On the Bank of the Ravi: An Historical Geography of Lahore’s River, Problems and Prospects,” the lecture shed light on the degraded state of the River Ravi, indicating a crisis extending beyond mere environmental damage.
Professor Wescoat presented evidence showcasing the deteriorating condition of the River Ravi, emphasizing issues such as irregular rainfall, reduced river flows, and the looming threat of floodplain hazards. It became evident that this crisis not only affects the ecosystem but also disproportionately impacts low-income communities, exposing them to health risks due to poor water quality and disrupting livelihoods.
One of the lecture’s highlights was the exploration of the history and cultural significance of the River Ravi. Over centuries, the river has been integral to the region, shaping the lives of those dwelling along its banks. From its prosperous days during the Ghaznavid and Mughal periods to its exploitation under colonial rule, Professor James sheded light on its present challenges. Despite gaining independence, new challenges emerged, including the Indus Water Treaty, yet the depletion of River Ravi’s flows persists, underscoring the urgent need for sustainable water management prioritizing both the environment and social justice.
In light of these historical and contemporary realities, the reflections of poet-philosopher Allama Iqbal resonated profoundly with the crowd. His musings on the River Ravi evoke nostalgia for the past and underscore the importance of preserving this resource for future generations. It was apparent how recognizing the intricate connection between history, culture, and the environment is imperative for forging a more sustainable future for the River Ravi and its communities.
“Imagine Future possibilities,
What are your ideas?”
During the Q&A session, Professor Wescoat engaged with attendees, particularly young girls, sparking creative discussions. A memorable moment arose when a young girl shared her artistic depiction of the River Ravi, despite never having visited it, which Professor Wescoat admired. His interactive approach fostered an environment of comfort and excitement.
Another significant outcome of the lecture was the presence of a Ravi activist among the audience, who invited attendees to join the ‘Ravi March’; a procession advocating for the River Ravi, adding a practical dimension to addressing its challenges.
Here are pictures for the day: