J&K shutdown a blessing in disguise as AQI improves

J&K shutdown a blessing in disguise as AQI improves

AFP file photo for representation

Though the ongoing shutdown in Kashmir has increased problems of most of the people in Kashmir, it is turning out to be a blessing in disguise for the residents of industrial areas as the shutting of factories has improved air quality there.

The people of picturesque hamlets of Khrew and Khonmoh on the outskirts of Srinagar, where most of the cement industries are located, have had a sigh of relief for the past almost two months as all the factories are locked. The area produces world famous saffron and have agricultural land as well.

However, the setting up of cement factories since last 15-years adversely affected the flora and fauna of the area that always remains shrouded with a dense smoke. The cement factories emit over thousands of kilograms of toxic emissions everyday which has not only deteriorated the air but has taken a toll on the human health as well. The factories are shut since August 5.

“It feels as if we are living in an entirely different neighborhood. The morning is so pleasing that one can feel the freshness in the air,” Younis Ahmad, a resident of Khrew told DH. 

He said the freshness reminds him of the times when there were no smoke emitting factories in the area. “During those years the air was so clear that one could actually feel it. The whole area was lush green and plenty of birds could be seen flying in the area. Everything has gone now,” Ahmad rued.

According to locals the first cement factory in Khrew area was established in 1984 by Kashmir Cement Project (KCP) and local youth were employed in it. Although, the economy of the area improved since but it came at the expense of environment. Until 2004, there was lone factory in the area but afterwards, more factories were established.

However, the shutting of cement factories has affected the livelihood of the residents as well. More than 70% of workforce in these factories are locals and the transportation of cement is also carried out by trucks owned by them. According to estimate, each household in the area owns a truck and more than 1200 trucks in the area which are lying idle since August 5.