Development, that too on an ongoing basis, is requirement of human civilization but should it be accepted at a heavy price, that of the angst of environmental and health hazards, resulting in taking the toll of human health and well being? The answer being a big “No” needs no illuminating. National Highway widening works have been found continuously been creating environmental and health hazards in our State, bringing in its wake, number of children and aged persons falling prey to various diseases related to respiratory system. There are well specified mandatory provisions in this regard which the concerned agencies are found not adhering to in letter and spirit. That becomes a cause of concern looking to number of cases of people suffering on account of environment and health related issues connected with the widening of the National Highway in Jammu and Kashmir. The serious environmental and health hazards being posed by the National Highway widening works have been highlighted by the Committee on Environment of Legislative Assembly in its latest report.
It is reliably learnt that the Government is contemplating to have Social Environmental Framework so that all pre as well as post constructional issues in respect of all mega projects are duly taken into account for necessary remedial measures, well in time. This is in response to taking a holistic view of the grave issue under reference as also looking to the fact that more developmental works in the near future are likely to take place. The dumping of construction material and debris on road side by the concerned executing agencies is causing adverse effect on environment. It also is causing the people living in the peripheries of the National Highway to numerous hardships and perturbation. Presence of dust in the air is doing the villain’s job of trapping the people in chest diseases and skin allergies. It is but mandatory for the concerned agencies to ensure timely removal of all such material that gets heaped up as a result of post dismantling of buildings and other structures during the road widening process.The Committee on Environment of Legislative Assembly, further states in its report, “Lack of coordination between various agencies entrusted with the task of lifting the muck and other material from the sites is responsible for the prevailing situation.”
It is hoped that the concerned authorities pay their preferred attention to this issue and at the outset, as per the standing instructions to the concerned Deputy Commissioners and SSPs concerned, being responsible for the prevailing situation for taking necessary steps for ensuring stabilizing all dumping sites in their respective jurisdictions, must pay regular visits to the sites to ensure due compliance of measures to address environmental and health related concerns.