The pollution which these cement factories are causing, apart from affecting the humans, is adversely affecting wildlife, saffron production as well as livestock, but what is shocking is that not only the authorities are silent, but those who claim to be “eco-conservators” have also gone deaf, dumb and blind. They cannot see; they cannot even smell and they cannot even say anything, even if they want to. One fails to understand that if these so-called “eco-conservators” are active in one place, what happens to them and their activism when it comes to the havoc which has been wrecked by these cement factories?
These two areas are picturesque hamlets surrounded by mountains and woods while as the major quantity of the world-famous Kashmiri saffron is also produced there apart from the routine agricultural activities, but these factories have turned out to be a curse for both areas: saffron production has been left severely affected by the pollution, including other productions which were otherwise carried out routinely. It needs to be noted that the Khrew area was once producing good quality walnuts and almonds, but that too is gone as these factories go spilling poison. It does not end there as the establishment of cement factories in areas, ecologically sensitive, has also left the wildlife affected too.
The woods of Khonmoh and Khrew are, in reality, boundaries of Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, which used to be home to several wild animals including Hangul, but their ecosystem has been destroyed by these factories over time. They saw their ecosystem shrinking, and getting altered, prompting them to carry out the journey towards the populated areas where they either kill or get killed. The pollution caused, presently being ignored as if nothing is wrong, has also degraded the Air Quality Index which has further led to the changing of the climatic conditions in Kashmir—more importantly, the disappearing snowfall from Srinagar needs to be seen in that light.
The Supreme Court in June this year while noting how the natural resources of the country have been ravaged due to mining and other activities directed for the having a mandatory one km eco-sensitive zones for every protected forest as well as the wildlife sanctuary to act as “shock absorbers”. The 3-judge bench also made it clear that mining and other activities within the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks cannot be permitted at any cost. But here, it is the total opposite with brazen violations happening all around.
The point here is—and no one has got the guts to deny that, neither can anyone state the otherwise—that to make a few blue-eyed people millionaires, Kashmir is marching fast on the track of losing its pristine glory while a lot of damage has already been done. There is also no denying the fact that the basic right of getting clean oxygen, to say the least, is also violated. It is high time for the LG Manoj Sinha-led Administration to wake up to the destruction happening around. Mr Sinha is without any doubt, a vehement believer and proponent of ecological conservation; he needs to order the closure of all such cement factories in Khonmoh and Khrew, now: because they are just causing destruction, nothing else.