Rising Pollution Levels

Rising Pollution Levels
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Walk through the central business district of Srinagar, Lal Chowk, at any time of the day, a thick pall of acrid and pungent smell greets the nostrils. The same holds true for noise levels. This reflects the high levels of pollution that is now, gradually but inexorably, enveloping Kashmir. The High Court has taken notice of all this. Rising pollution of all sorts and types is happening in Kashmir despite the fact that the region is not an industrialized zone. The pollution then accrues mostly from emissions of vehicular traffic and poor urbanization. There has been a huge increase in car and vehicle ownership in Kashmir since the past decade or so. Throw in poor urbanization and demographics into the picture and what accrues is a polluted city. Is there a way out? The administration, for aesthetic reasons and attempts to reduce congestion and thereby pollution in the city has gone on an overdrive by “cleaning” pavements of street vendors; the Batmaloo bus stand has been shifted, along with other allied measures. But, these measures can only do so much and they carry a price, in terms of, the displacement of livelihoods of poor street vendors. Clearing the city cannot and must not be a zero sum game. A broader, holistic solution must be found that has genuine trade-offs which redound to the benefit of all stakeholders of the city. One way could be to build and develop parking zones away from the city limits and ensure transportation mechanism to ply people from these zones to the city. Water transport could also be given a fresh impetus. But, the most important measure, could be devising an efficient and effective transportation system. (It is said that a city is as good as its transportation system). All these measures are top down ones which can only succeed if people also comply and take reducing pollution levels seriously. One measure that could be employed by the people is to adhere to standards, but, perhaps, more important, is not to buy more than one car or vehicle. For ease of commute, people can also, take recourse to what is called car pooling. That is, people – acquaintances, neighbors and friends, can take turns and drive only in one car to their respective destinations, whenever and wherever possible. Rising pollution , of any form and nature, is noxious and toxic, and has both public and individual health connotations. It is about time that we wake upto to the problem and do something about it.


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