Kulgam school building remains sandwiched between 2 sawmills, students’ health at risk

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, Jan 20: The Government Middle School Motelhama, in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district which is nestled between two band-saw mills has become a source of concern for the community since it poses a serious threat to the lives of students.
It began as a Primary school in the Kulgam district’s Qaimoh zone in 1966 and was upgraded to a middle school in 2006 with a roll of more than 150 students. The government, on the other hand, has never taken any steps to provide the school with permanent infrastructure. “The school now operates from a rented building in the Auqaaf Committee, and pays a monthly rent of roughly Rs 500,” an official of School Education department said.
He further said that the structure is situated between two band-saw mills, posing a serious threat to the children. “We have been pleading with the government to move the school to a permanent location, but to no avail,” he said.
The concerned Auqaaf Committee recently stepped in and handed the Band-Saw proprietors one lakh rupees each in exchange for their relocating a little further away from the school grounds, while the authorities remained skeptical. “Only one of them complied, and only partially. Our children continue to suffer and pay the price for administration’s incompetence. He has moved just a few feet away from the school, but another one is still there,” locals said.
Residents voiced concern that the health and education of these youngsters were in peril. They said that the whole school building shakes with the force of these mills and they are constantly running generators. “The kids are unable to hear their teachers properly due to the noise of the generators”, they said.
Long-term exposure to loud noise, according to experts, can cause serious health and behavioral issues such as excessive stress, hypertension, hearing loss, sleep disruptions, and tinnitus (the perception of noise ringing in the ears). “Pollution from these mills can induce attention deficits, anxiety, and injury to the respiratory systems of these students,” he said, adding that their performance will also decline with time.
Abdul Majeed, the Zonal Education Officer for Qaimoh, told Excelsior that the administration has recently identified land for the construction of a new building. “We are proposing to build a two-storey building for the school on the land that the administration has identified and demarked,” he said adding, the construction work would begin in the next fiscal year.