Pulwama: The residents of Khrew in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Tuesday staged a protest demonstration against the pollution created by the cement factories in the area.
The protesters said factories have become main source of pollution in the areas affecting public health at large, adding that they will continue staging protest tomorrow also.
“The presence of these factories has adversely affected our health, vegetation and saffron fields,” Abdul Shaban, a resident told Rising Kashmir, adding, “Not only have we developed respiratory problems, our livelihood too has been badly affected.”
The protestersincluded a sizeable number of saffron cultivators having their fields spread around cement factories.
“We are witnessing unprecedented decrease in production since the plants came up in Khrew and Khanmoh,” said Fayaz Bhat, a farmer. “We have knocked at many doors but still we remain unheard,” he added.
At least six cement factories are functional in the area and few more are likely to come up in the area, if locals are to be believed.
Residents accused the government of playing with their lives. “We will die but not allow more factories to come up here,” residents said.
“Our water resources have fallen victim to pollution from illegal stone mining and cement factories,” said Aadil Bhat, coordinator civil society Khrew, adding, “The cement plants should be subjected to stringent pollution tests and allowed to operate after the factories adhere to the prescribed regulations with reference to public health and the world wide health guidelines of World Health Organization.”
“These units are very close to protected area of Dachigam National Park, a wildlife sanctuary and their operation, if not controlled, can cause an environmental disaster,” said an environmental expert.
Locals alleged when the factories started functioning back in 1982 here, the owners had made agreement with the residents about giving 90% of jobs to the local educated youth but today only 5%of jobs are given to locals.
“Last year, a team of doctors arrived here and forewarned that after two decades, many local children will be suffering from cancer,” said Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, adding, “The team declared that presently 75% of locals are suffering from respiratory troubles.”
“Protests will continue till all factories implement pollution control devices,” said Aadil Bhat.
They alleged that no factory has installed high value particle samplers (HVPRs) to check pollution.
Students from 5 local schools also participated in the protests.