Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Escalating air, noise pollution causing environmental degradation in J&K


*2 years gone; no Air Quality Monitoring in ‘gray areas’

*Despite warnings music systems reinstalled by operators

*Survival of habitations in low lying areas threatened

*Comprehensive City Transport Plan for Srinagar, Jammu on anvil

The pollution in varied forms has been causing environmental degradation in Jammu and Kashmir state and consequently glaciers in the state are now melting at a faster pace, threatening the survival of habitations in low lying areas.

Environmental degradation in different forms of air, water, and noise pollution goes on unchecked in the state Jammu and Kashmir with concerned authorities including State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and other agencies sleeping over what environmentalists say ‘a ticking time bomb’.

The problem can be attributed to rapid deforestation and rampant use of fossil fuels. The number of green trees has come under the axe for widening the Jammu-Pathankote bypass road and countless trees were also felled under four-lane project of NHAI right from Pull Doda to Bhaderwah.

The green patches around winter capital, called lungs of the city, have been shrinking at a faster pace while air-pollution including green house gases has been increasing day by day.
Haphazard industrialization in the state in the backdrop of faulty checks and constantly increasing number of automobiles has been adding to emission of greenhouse gases.

Automobiles continue to spew carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and lead, not only polluting the air but also disturbing the heat and radiation balance of earth's atmosphere.

Per capita number of vehicles have increased manifold in Jammu in particular and the whole state in general as compared to population density and these vehicles have been adding to air pollution without any serious exercise by the government to check emissions of greenhouse gases.

The air pollution graph that is on continuous rise in the city of temples is getting no attention from the monitoring agencies considering the fact that even after lapse of two years State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has failed to install ‘Continuous Air Quality Monitoring Systems’ proposed two years back for areas prone to air pollution.

The project was sanctioned by Central Pollution Control Board after the state board moved a proposal for the same in the year 2007.

Sources in the Pollution Control Board said that the installation of Envirotech Instruments in the interior parts forms the part of traffic regulation in the city, particularly measures for putting control on the traffic pollution.

The locations identified for installing ‘‘Continuous Air Quality Monitoring Systems’ Raghunath Bazar, Kachi Chawani, Janipura and Vikram Chowk, the areas which have maximum traffic pressure.

The major source of air pollution in Jammu city is emissions from traffic, for it is only second after Tokyo in the list of cities having maximum number of automobile traffic across the world

Presently there are only three such installations across Jammu City, one at Mulana Azad Stadium other at PCB complex at Narwal and third at Industrial area Baribrahmna.

However, there are no such installations in Mishriwala, Muthi and other areas which have maximum numbers of Brick Kilns considered as one of the main source of air pollution.

Meanwhile, the noise pollution is another matter of concern for the people in city of temples. Within few days after the traffic cops had launched an over ambitious drive to rid the pubic transport vehicles of their music systems majority of matadors plying on different routes across the city have reinstalled or bought new music systems to entertain their passengers.

Few days ago the traffic cops along with senior district police officers have carried out a special drive of deinstalling music systems from the public transport buses. Ironically, paying little or no attention to the directives and strict warning issued by the traffic cops to drivers and conductors majority of them are running music system much to the chagrin of commuters.

The traffic cops had carried out the exercise after large number of commuters has complained to the senior cops through writing complaints to rid the public transport system of this menace.

For few days the transporters and owners of these matadors’ exercised self control but majority of them surrendered before the wishes of their operators who were pushing hard to install.

The argument given by these operators to their promoters was very straight. Music is the only source of entertainment for us we bear unbearable heat for long hours.

After listening to their arguments the owners of these matadors allowed their drives to install music systems but added a single liner rider not to play vulgar songs at high volume and listen to the suggestions of commuters in this regard. When contacted senior traffic cops on duty across Jammu admitted that we cannot stop every matador owner from installing music systems.

The traffic police officer said our job is to restrict use of music systems which largely creates noise pollution and from time to time we carry out regular checks and challan matador operators for violating norms of motor vehicles department.

Meanwhile, a comprehensive city transport plan for the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar was discussed at a high level meeting chaired by Minister for Transport, Qamar Ali Akhoon today. Besides the Minister of State for Transport, CAPD, Shabir Ahmad Khan, the meeting was attended by Secretary Transport, Secretary, Urban Development, Vice Chairman, Jammu Development Authority, Vice Chairman Srinagar Development Authority, Transport Commissioner and other concerned officers.

The meeting was informed that within two months, Jammu Development Authority and Srinagar Development Authority will come up with a proposal with preparation of documents and evaluation. The meeting decided to set up the multi disciplinary committees for Jammu and Srinagar cities headed by respective Vice Chairman of two Development Authorities with Chief Architect of two concerned authorities as the Member Secretaries and Chief Town Planner, Chief Architect, SSP Traffic, SE, R&B and RTO concerned as the members.

The meeting was told that the Transport department will initiate the steps for setting up of the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority. The meeting was told that for better traffic management latest technology will be put to use with most rapid transit system put in place wherein less vehicles will be used for larger transportation of people. After the necessary ground work is completed the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority will be established for regulating the public transport.

The meeting also discussed the identification of land for establishment of legal metrology offices both in JammuSrinagar besides the land for establishment of CAPD office at Jammu with the JDA and SDA. and

The up keep and maintenance of CAPD godowns at Ware-House, Jammu was also discussed and the JDA was directed by the Minister to ensure proper up keep and sanitation at the spot.