Epidemic threat looms large over Srinagar


SRINAGAR: A week on since the curfew was imposed across Kashmir on July 9, the summer capital of Srinagar, is at the verge of epidemic as over 3000 metric tons and mounting garbage heaps lie unattended on the City roads.

Health experts fear that deadly diseases like cholera can grip the City if immediate remedial measures are not taken while the congested old City, locally called Shaher-e-Khaas, is most vulnerable to the outbreak.

Amid scorching heat, presence of unattended garbage heaps has become a source of nauseating stench, which has gripped almost every locality across the summer capital.

Every day, the City spews around 400 metric tons of garbage, otherwise regularly lifted by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). But the continued curfew has been hindering the garbage lifting like most other normal activities.

Even though the government had announced that the I-cards of government employees would be treated as curfew passes, most of them prefer to stay indoors.

The employees say when security forces are even not sparing ailing or wounded being ferried to hospital, how would the duty-goers be allowed to move around.

“My relative who was wounded in police action was brought down from ambulance and beaten ruthlessly. When this can happen with ailing, the fate of healthy persons before bullish cops can only be imagined,” said an SMC employee.

The Safai Walas have their own take on the issue. “We are the poorest of the employees, and economically the most down trodden, most unheard… Before we ask cops to let us go to work, they chase us away, with a quick lathi charge. How can we work in such hazardous conditions when police treats us like stone pelters?” asked a Safai Wala.

Residents of Zaina Kadal and adjoining areas said stench has made their lives miserable while as there has been an alarming rise in the number of flies, mosquitoes and other insects. “Despite scorching heat, we cannot keep the windows open,” said Nazir Ahmed.

A senior SMC official said the civic body has resumed sanitation activities to “some extent.” He said garbage was being lifted from Airport Road and the Hyder Pora highway, the twin routes frequented by the VIPs. He however admitted that  most of the volatile areas particularly old City remain largely unattended.

His views are seconded by Safai Walas like Feroz Ahmed who has been “risking his life to keep the airport road clean.” “But we have to risk our lives, it can’t be done every day… I too have a family back home. What if I get attacked by forces or protesters?” he asked while cleaning the deserted road dotted by alert cops.

Health experts, on the other hand, have pressed the panic button. “We can have cholera, viral diarrhea… There are many possibilities of infectious diseases both viral and bacterial spreading across the population. You can expect superbugs around, and in these conditions. They too can make way into food stuff through vectors like flies,” said Dr Muhammad Farooq told Kashmir Observer.

Dr Farooq said the unhygienic conditions could even affect the health of cattle and other livestock as well.  “The situation is grim. Let me tell you.”




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