Yesterday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, while referring to the devastation caused by the recent floods in Kerala and the wildfires in California, tried to shed light on the climate change and disasters it brings. Environment protection and issues are getting worst day by day, not only in India but in the entire world. The blind run for the so-called development while ignoring the interest of both human population and the nature is the biggest threat to the environment. They are responsible for many ills, including the climate change that is affecting millions of people in the world. The loss due to climate change in the last year, as said by the UN Chief, has been estimated to be USD 320 billion.
As has been observed in other states and regions, the private corporate players are misusing and depleting our natural resources without any consideration for implementing a law that could ensure protection of our fragile environment. It is a bitter truth that the state administration has not been able to stand against the corporate players. Over the years the violators have become so confident that they dismiss at ease the apex court orders and the Directions of National Green Tribunal.
Kashmir, the most beautiful valley in Asia, is no exception to the abuse and depletion that continue unabated. The vale is not only famous for its looks but the rich biodiversity it has sustained for centuries. It is the moral obligation of the state subjects to save not only the beauty of Kashmir but its biodiversity which is invaluable. It is this biodiversity that plays vital role in balancing the ecology, failing which the disasters will strike on and off.
Wherever there are natural resources that can be tapped for profits, there is a potential for misuse. In Kashmir one of the concerns that have come to light in recent years is the presence and working of land mafia. These are the profit-hungry players whose eyes are fixed on the land resources in the valley.
We launched a drive to save district Budgam from the clutches of illegal brick kilns that have been operating under the nose of the administration. After dong the ground work, it was found that the district has 230 brick kilns. In these kilns most of the people from this state only work as labourers who are not even paid much. It was also found that children and minors work in many of these kilns. Therefore the argument of employment falls flat against the problems that these kilns have created in the region.
It is a big question how the brick kilns have mushroomed over the years in the district. With vast resources that are being exploited without any collateral or any binding from the kiln owners towards the cause of environment protection, large number of factories have been set up and are operational. It is affecting the natural resources, like many water bodies and springs have become polluted due to the wastes generated by these kilns. The smoke coming out of the chimneys of the kilns release toxic gases in the air. They contain carbon particles and a high concentration of Carbon Monoxide and Sulphur Oxide which can cause common lung diseases like asthma and silicosis. Already the number of patients suffering from diseases like tuberculosis is high in the valley. In such a situation the kilns prove to be a serious life threat to the people of Budgam district.
The means of transport, tippers that carry the bricks from factories to the delivery points, has also bad effects on the health of the people living in and around the factories. Air and noise pollution due to kilns are not only affecting the human population but other species as well.
As per the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act 1974, no industry can be established or run without the permission granted by the Pollution Control Board as envisaged under section 25 and 26. The law is clearly being violated by the factory owners. As is apparent, the factory owners are running the show in connivance with district administration officials. Some owners have been found to be operating more than four kilns and are said to be in the process of setting up more.
On environment, we have heard the loudest call being made in Paris sometime ago. New development models in most of the cases have proved to pose threat to the ecological balance and to the natural resources alike. Rich mineral resources are always in the target list of the hungry players. It is time to take a stand to save our ecology and our nature in order to save the human civilization.
We as responsible citizens must demand action against all civic bodies who are not implementing the solid waste management rules and punishment under law to all those including (civic bodies) who are violating the Water Prevention And Control of Pollution Act, 1974. But more importantly, we must come forward against all forces that are responsible for destroying our nature and playing with the life of the people here.