A Letter To The MLA Who’s Silent About The Destruction Of My Hometown In Kashmir

Posted by Munawar in Environment, Kashmir
June 29, 2017


Aga Syed Ruhullah, MLA, Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir

During Eid-ul-Fitr this year, I felt as though I was transported to some heavenly place. I even forgot what my life at home is like, during this time.

Today, around noon, I decided to offer my prayers in the masjid, which is two minutes away from my house. The moment I opened the gate, I was confronted by the real world. A gush of dust assaulted my body. By then, I had also inhaled a lot of harmful particulate matter!

Last Saturday, I ‘celebrated’ six years of ‘forced house arrest’. I don’t wander out of my house (besides going to the university). In fact, I don’t even remember the last time when I took in the fresh air of my village!

Mr Ruhullah, your immature policies have made this beautiful village hellish. In fact, you may well take pride in thinking that this experience may help us in doomsday, and that ‘hell’ is better than this!

The Issue Of The Road

Two harsh winters have come and gone. But the road is yet to be macadamised. The deep gorges (which we call khooni nallas and shaitan nallas), gulches and ravines have also paralysed this road.

Apart from this, the rush of tippers (operated by the mafia) and other vehicles have made our lives a nightmare. The members of this mafia and the drivers who operate these tippers, who are mostly 2o-25 years old, drive their vehicles at high speeds, leaving behind a cloud of dust whenever they pass through the road. Do these people, who drive their vehicles with the windows closed, even care about the problems we face due to dust entering our homes? Where is the morality in getting the luxuries of life, while also hurting others?

Pot-holed roads in Budgam
The road has made the lives of Budgam’s people a living nightmare!

Meanwhile, our dishes, cups, clothes, drinking water and other things become severely polluted due to this dust invasion. The list of these inconveniences goes on and on. Moreover, taking measures to protect or shield ourselves and our belongings is futile.

Dear Mr Ruhullah, we are afraid to even come out of our houses. The severe dust pollution in our area has adversely affected our lives. At the end of each month, your Roads And Building Department collects lots of money from the tippers – and yet, they hesitate to even macadamize a single road! How is the money collected from the nearly 230 brick kilns operating in the Budgam area utilised, and where does it go?

Dear Mr Ruhullah! Your name means ‘spirit of God’. Therefore, being a member of the society in Reshipora, I beg you to cure our ailments. Look at our condition – we are not far from your home. This is literally your aangan (backyard). Please keep it clean.

The Issue Of Environment

Mr Ruhullah, whether you are actively involved in this or whether all of this is beyond your purview is a matter of contention. But, it is a fact that Budgam, once considered to be one of the most pristine, aesthetic and ravishing districts in the Kashmir valley, is now seen as one of the potential contributors to environment pollution in contemporary times.

Our resources, beautiful meadows and mesmerising landscapes are being ruthlessly looted by the mafia. And no one cries in disappointment over this, including you!

The orchards and the human population adjacent to the brick kilns are facing the brunt of endemic environmental pollution. The agricultural produce in the area is also being adversely affected. Moreover, the carbon dioxide and other poisonous aerosols emitted by the chimneys of these kilns stay in the air for a prolonged period and are hence extremely detrimental for both the natural vegetation and the human population.

Air pollution in Budgam
Dust pollution in Budgam

Please give up the perception that we will continue to vote you simply because you are the descendant of and belong to a particular sect of the Syed clan. There is a furious anger that’s brewing inside all of us, which may even make us completely forget you! As Robert Kennedy rightly puts it“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Where is the district commissioner (DC)?

Syed Nadeem, who heads the Jammu and Kashmir State Pollution Control Board (PCB) said, “Numerous brick kilns in Budgam and different districts of Kashmir are operating illegally. Though we have issued notices to the DC of Budgam, he has not responded yet. There is a legal binding to it, and in future, we will be filing cases against district commissioners.”

We believe that a person who can better our lives and can carry the agenda of prosperity forward for every caste, religion, region should be given a chance. The religion of the person doesn’t matter here.

Only benefiting your allies or the ones close to you is not equivalent to working for development. These people can mollycoddle you, because they are the ‘boot-lickers’ and they need to earn bonuses from you. However, unlike them, we are responsible citizens and we believe that you are an MLA only because of us!

So, improve our lives, or we will have you uprooted!


Images by author