Helpless children exposed to constant, severe noise as well as air pollution
Kulgam: Little children studying at Government Middle School Motelhama, here in Kulgam district, are exposed to severe noise and air pollution as the rented school building is tucked between two band-saw mills, where diesel generators roar and straw flies about throughout the day.
Established in 1966 as a primary school in Qaimoh zone of the district, this school was upgraded to middle school in 2006 and has a roll of more than 150 students. However, the government has never taken steps to provide the school a permanent accommodation.
“It is operating from a rented building of the Auqaaf committee, for which the school pays a rent of about 500 rupees per month,” a source in the education department told Kashmir Reader.
The building, sources said, is located between two band-saw mills, putting the children at severe health risks. “We have been pleading with the authorities to shift the school to a permanent building, but to no avail,” the local residents that Kashmir Reader talked to said.
While the government remained unmoved, the local Auqaaf committee stepped in and offered one lakh rupees each to the band-saw mill owners, asking them to relocate a little farther from the school premises.
“Only one of them obliged and that too, partly. He has relocated just a few feet from the school, while another one stays put,” the locals said. “Our children continue to suffer and bear the brunt of government apathy.”
The residents lamented that not only the health of the students but their education was also suffering, “The children are unable to listen to their teachers properly, amid the roar of the generators,” the locals said. “The whole school building shakes with the force of these mills and their ever-running generators.”
Experts say that continuous exposure to loud noise can cause long-term damage to both health and behaviour, including high stress levels, hypertension, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and tinnitus (perception of noise ringing in the ears).
“It can cause attention deficit, anxiety, and it can affect their respiratory system, given the air pollution these mills cause. The performance of these students will nosedive over the years,” a doctor that Kashmir Reader talked to said.
He added that anxiety can have serious health implications in the longer run.
Kashmir Reader talked to the Chief Education Officer (CEO) Kulgam, Muhammad Ashraf, who said that the education department has taken cognizance of the matter and written to the Deputy Commissioner, Kulgam, for allotment of state land for the school.
“The DC has directed local revenue officials to identify state land for construction of a building for this school. I believe the process is moving on a fast-track basis and a piece of land will soon be identified so that a new building is constructed,” Ashraf said.