Burning of fruit tree leaves pollutes atmosphere in Shopian

Environmentalists call for awareness about health hazards, benefits of decomposition

SHOPIAN: The burning of fruit tree leaves by orchardists have created a dense smog in south Kashmir’s Shopian causing air pollution that has left elderly and children susceptible to health hazards.
According to horticulture scientists, the fruit tree leaves contain a large amount of chemicals which are being sprayed on the trees throughout the year for diseases control. The fruit tree leaves not only contains the components of a common leaf but a dozen of chemicals (fungicides) which are being sprayed on fruit trees throughout the year. The smoke coming from burning of these leaves have created thick layers of smog here.
Shahid Ahmad, a science student said that orchardists are not all to be blamed for this menace. He said that earlier horticulture officials advised people to burn the leaves without caring about the lives and health of people.
People here say they have been burning fruit tree leaves as they had been advised by horticulture experts to burn these leaves to keep the fungus and other insects at bay.
“If we don’t burn these leaves, it pollutes our orchards and causes more diseases in coming season,” said Shabir Ahmad, an orchardist.
SKAUST scientists have other opinion on this subject and said that decomposing fruit tree leaves can be a viable option as it can be used as nitrogen spray.
“There is high composition of nitrogen in urea and once it is being sprayed on the fallen leaves, it decomposes them easily with the passage of time,” said Dr Tariq Rasool, a senior SKAUST scientist posted at KVK Balpora.
An environmentalist Abid Saki said that a comprehensive awareness programmes through different media outlets is the need of hour.
“Most of the people are the aware about the hazards of burning leaves and people must be made aware through expertise advise,” he said, adding that the burning of fruit tree leaves has increased in recent years as in the past people used to throw leaves in a free space near their orchards.
Doctors said that smog is a very toxic for small children and elderly people and for people who have chronic ailments.
“Smoke from leaves cause bronchospasm, allergies in eyes and other ailments,” said Dr Irfan, a senior ENT specialist.
He said that children, elderly and chronic patients should be kept indoors and masks should be used by the people to save themselves to some extent from this pollution.

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