SRINAGAR: In a major threat to public health, toxic smoke engulfs parts of the city here, as Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) openly burns expired medicines in densely populated areas of the city.
For the past several months, it has become a routine for the SMC sanitation staff to burn heaps of medicines along with garbage on the Aali Masjid-Hawal Road, a vital link in the Old City (Shaher-e-Khaas), the inhabitants said.
This continued burning of the toxic material is creating a nauseating impact in a vast area in the densely populated north city. From Khaiwan, Narwara and Eidgah on one side to Zadibal and Hawal on the other, the toxic smoke hangs high in the air putting in peril the lives of lakhs of people.
While experts said the toxic fumes, emanating from the banks of Khushhalsar, could have long-term hazardous affects on human health and may even lead to death, the inhabitants say they are feeling suffocated, while scores of them, particularly children and elderly have already fallen sick.
My aged father is suffering from severe chest congestion while the doctor said it was due to the smoke which often engulfs our locality, said a Kahiwan resident, Abdul Rasheed Bhat.
The problem has worsened in the ongoing fasting month of Ramazan as many of the inhabitants, who feel choked, complained of nausea and headache due to smoke.
While, as per the State Pollution Control Board norms, its an offence to burn such lot in open, whats equally fishy is that how come every day such huge chunk of expired medicines makes it to the burning heaps of waste.
Being the inhabitants of conflict zone, we fear this is a conspiracy to kill the people through this toxic smoke… How come has the government been silent? asked the inhabitants of Hawal.
In an SOS to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, they said the government must initiate an inquiry into the matter and take strict action against the accused particularly the civic body officials.
Ironically, though the SMC is supposed to take care of public health, the civic body is itself responsible for the deadly negligence, the inhabitants said.
Prominent medico and President Doctors Association of Kashmir, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan expressed serious concern over the issue. This is a definite risk to the human health and environment alike. How can they do it when there needs to be a proper mechanism for disposal of medicines through scientific means, Dr Hassan said. He said it equally needs to be probed what kind of medicines have been burnt. This is a risky affair from all angles.
Health Officer SMC feigned ignorance. I will definitely look into the matter tomorrow, she told Kashmir Observer on Thursday.
Residents reveal that while SMC dumps city waste in ecologically fragile Khushhalsar and near by Anchar lake during the day, land mafia fills the water body with soil during nights under the very nose of the administration.
This has been happening despite Divisional Commissioner Kashmir setting a deadline of 15 days to the administration for environmental conservation of the area along three waterbodies, the dying Anchar, Khushalsar and Gilsar lakes.
On June 4, Dr Asghar Hassan Samoon convened a meeting regarding the conservation of lakes, in response to the issue raised in DDB meeting of Srinagar district.
In the DDB meeting, local MLA had desired immediate action and need for constituting a separate conservation authority for these lakes in due course.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar, and Ganderbal, Vice Chairman SDA, Commissioner SMC, Director, Ecology and Remote Sensing J&K, Director Tourism Kashmir, Chief Town Planner, Kashmir, Chief Engineer NBCC Ltd Srinagar, Chief Wild Life Warden and other concerned officers. The Divisional Commissioner had sought results within 15 days
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.