Bandipora, Oct 5: Residents of the main town in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district are facing distress as an ongoing fire at a dumping disposal site in the Zalwan area engulfs the vicinity in thick, acrid smoke.
The locals said that they are grappling with health issues due to the relentless smog. Many locals reported adverse health effects.
“I had an uncontrollable coughing fit walking outside last night and nearly vomited from it,” said Ishfaq Ahmad, a resident.
The noxious odour permeates even inside homes, forcing us to keep their windows tightly shut, he said, adding that several parts of the town remain shrouded in heavy fumes, and the acrid smell of burning plastic exacerbates the situation.
Abdul Majeed, an elderly local, said the problem is compounded by the fact that garbage collected from all over Bandipora town is dumped at this site, where it is set ablaze by unknown miscreants. “The toxic smoke, besides being an environmental hazard, poses a significant health threat to the local population,” he said.
“We have no idea who is burning this garbage every day,” lamented Mohammad Ashraf, another local resident.
“People are experiencing eye irritation, sneezing, and discomfort, with some resorting to wearing masks even within the confines of their homes. Children, too, are not immune to the effects and have been complaining about eye irritation,” he added.
The locals said that despite their persistent demands for the relocation of the dumping site, the authorities have not done anything.
Last year, the Pollution Control Committee identified that solid waste was being haphazardly and unscientifically dumped at the Zalwan Nassu site, dangerously close to the district headquarters of Bandipora and in proximity to the critical Wular Lake catchment area.
Meanwhile, an official said that response teams have swiftly arrived at the scene to determine the cause of the fire. “Measures will be taken to perform earth filling to contain the fire, and comprehensive efforts will be made to ensure the fire is completely extinguished,” he said.