World Environment Day-2019
By Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili
The theme of this year’s World Environment Day has been selected to delve upon the most vital concern of every individual i.e. Air Pollution.
Nature had gifted us with the mother earth covered with green forests, enveloped in the purest form of the atmosphere with a suitable proportion of oxygen and other elements most congenial for living a healthy life, but for our interference, our environment is fast deteriorating, the signs of which we are witnessing in the form of global warming and unusual weather changes all over the globe. We are experiencing icy chill even in the present month of June beside intermittent rains almost every day.
The air pollution may seem complex, but we can all play our part to reduce some of it. Understanding the different types of pollution, and how it affects our health and environment will help us take steps towards improving the air around us.
How much pollution we breathe in is dependent on many factors, such as access to clean energy for cooking and heating, the time of day and the weather. Rush hour is an obvious source of local pollution, but air pollution can travel long distances sometimes across continents on international weather patterns.
Nobody is safe from this pollution, which comes from five main human sources like Household, Industry, Transport Agriculture, and Waste burning or organic waste used in landfills, besides this there are the sources other than human activity as detailed on the other pages of my paper.
The air quality in Kashmir is deteriorating due to inadequate enforcement of the norms, poor maintenance of public transport, bad road conditions and poor traffic management.
Tests have proved that even in Srinagar the city which used to have refreshing air quality and purest form of water is a tourist resort has developed poor air and water quality.
All these sources spew out a range of substances including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and lead–all of which are harmful to human health.
In Kashmir burning of Chinar leaves in autumn season and forest fires spread a lot of smoke in the atmosphere causing pollution.
In May this year a study by World Health Organization (WHO) rated Srinagar city as one of the most polluted cities in the world. As per the WHO findings Srinagar figured at serial No 10 among the 15 polluted cities.
However the state Pollution Control Board, the only government agency that monitors air quality in J&K, rebutted the report saying it has never forwarded any data to the WHO.
Similarly, air pollution including tobacco smoke is an invisible and silent killer. The consequent damages caused to human health have been detailed separately
Improving the collection, separation, and disposal of solid waste reduces the amount of waste that is burned or landfilled. Separating organic waste and turning it into compost or bioenergy improves soil fertility and provides an alternative energy source. Reducing the estimated one-third of all food that is lost or wasted can also improve air quality.
Not all air pollution comes from human activity. Volcanic eruptions, dust storms and other natural processes also cause problems. Sand and dust storms are particularly concerning. Fine particles of dust can travel thousands of miles on the back of these storms, which may also carry pathogens and harmful substances, causing acute and chronic respiratory problems.
The floating cotton in the air emanating from the Russian poplars that were introduced in Kashmir Valley a few years the back has caused a lot of respiratory diseases among the common people and the efforts to remove this menace by the authorities have proved ineffective.
The dust emanating from the cement factories fitted without corrective measures at Wuyan, Zewan, Khunmoh and Khrew in South, Kashmir has adversely affected the saffron cultivation of the area besides causing respiratory diseases of the neighboring population.
The IEI J&K SC must make strong recommendations to the concerned authorities in the J&K Govt. for taking earnest steps to improve the air quality of the J&K State to safeguard the health of its inhabitants and the tourists visiting from national and international areas.