Achan residents protest ‘over-dumping’ at site

Achan residents protest ‘over-dumping’ at site
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Say wetland turned into poisonous wasteland

Itifaq Lone

Srinagar: Residents of Achan area in Srinagar held a protest demonstration against the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for what they called over-dumping of the solid waste at dumping site in the area, “without decomposition of earlier dumped waste”.
The residents blocked Ali Jan road for hours and stopped SMC vehicles from entering into the dumping site.
The 32-year-old Achan dumping site, spread over 616 kanals, was once a wetland and home to colourful birds and vegetation, the locals recall.
Residents said that the dumping site has polluted water bodies, air, and environment in the area and led to diseases among the nearby population.
They said that several residents are suffering from serious bacterial and viral disease due to the pollution by the landfill site.
Javid Ahmad Bhat, a resident said that his father is suffering from a serious ‘blood disease’ and has seen reduction in blood cells in his body, because of consuming the ground water, which has been polluted by the dumping site. They blamed the SMC for all these suffering.
The wetland was interconnected with Anchar Lake through a web of water bodies. The dumping activity at Achan has also badly disturbed the other water bodies, the locals say. They said the wetland became waste land in 1983 on the order of then Governor Jagmohan, “fooling Achan residents by making it a satellite colony which never happened”.
The residents alleged that the garbage simmers in huge mounds, crumbling in heat and rain, and flows into the nearby agricultural land. The nearby farmers have abandoned farming over a portion of what is now left of the cultivable land.
They said that judicial verdicts on the site were never taken seriously by the SMC and nothing has been done to treat the already accumulated rubbish of more than three decades, which has now polluted groundwater to an extent that it has been declared unfit for drinking.
Showket Ahmad Bhat, a resident, said that the site has became hub of dogs with the “sky touching solid waste heaps over-flowing” from the dumping cells.
“This landfill site has badly polluted the air and water bodies, ground water are now unsafe for drinking and people drink it at their own risk. We cannot even inhale safe air, this air not only smells foul but has the number of bacterial and viral disease causing agents,” he said.
The protesters, raised slogans like “we want justice” and “close achan dumping site”, and alleged the authorities failed to take steps that could control water pollution and foul odour emanating from the dumping site.
The residents have time and again held protests against the dumping site “which has turned our lives into hell”.
Locals said that the fenced Achan dumping site remains guarded by the SMC employees round the clock. “No civilian or fact-finder is allowed inside the landfill site, in fact no media personnel is allowed inside”.
Chief Sanitation Officer, SMC, Ghulam Rasool Dar said that they will “properly segregate the waste for which two plants have been installed one of which is already functioning”.
“We will solve the problem within ten days and will make ponds for simmering water from the waste to stop it from spilling over.” Rasool said.