Rajouri 'the land of Kings' turns into a garbage town - watsupptoday.com
Rajouri 'the land of Kings' turns into a garbage town
Posted 25 Mar 2017 12:10 PM


Rajouri or ‘Rajapuri’, ‘the land of Kings’ as previously named, was a part of Panchal kingdom mentioned in the great epic Mahabharata. It has reference of Panchal kingdom, which is believed to be of the regions in the Panchal mountain range. Rajouri is one of the districts in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which lies adjacent to Line of Control. Rajouri is not only famous for its kalari, an ethnic delicacy but is an icon of ancient princedom. Rajouri comprising of six tehsils is gifted with fertile land, where itsriver water nurtures maize and rice fields. The land is a home for Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes who rear sheep, goats and horses. The magnificent locale, bountiful resources and ethnicity of diverse communities have shaped the socio-cultural fabric of Rajouri. Rajouri was once known as ‘the Vale of Lakes’ for its lakes and water springs. The unique heritage, salubrious weather and engrossing backdrop of Rajouri has captivated the travellers. Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsang who visited this province wrote about the splendid natural beauty of Rajouri in his travelogue. Still earlier, during the Buddhist period, Rajouri was a part of Gandhara territory.

Rajouri is located at 33.38°N Latitude and 74.3° ELongitude and has an average elevation of 915 meters. The town is located about 154 kms from Jammu city on Poonch highway. The climate of Rajouri is salubrious with pleasant summers and chilly winters. The river flowing through Rajouri town comes from Darhal and Thanamandi with confluence at Kheora. Despite having enthralling natural setting and rich cultural legacy, the two are under the threat of ecological degradation due to unexpected activities, pressure on resources, unsystematic expansion, lack of statutes and lack of awareness among the inhabitants. These have resulted in deforestation, hostile environs and continuous loss of biodiversity.

Impact of urbanization is more acute in small towns and cities because of inadequate provision of basic amenities like water supply and sanitation, conveyancefacilities, waste disposal mechanism, etc. and Rajouri town is no exception to this. There has been substantial population growth in Rajouri during the last few decades, which has increased the daily solid waste and waste water generation in the town. Indiscriminate dumping of solid waste in storm water drains with improper treatment and disposal facility are adversely impacting the surrounding areas.

Solid Waste Management (SWM) is emerging as one of the major environmental issues. Improper management of municipal solid waste is believed to be hazardous. Research has revealed that solid waste disposed-off unscientifically in open, poses threats to public health and environment. Roughly 18-20 Tons/ day of solid waste is generated in Rajaori town. Municipal Committee fails to handle the increasing quantity of waste, which leads to the littering of waste on roads and other public places, especially the slums areas grown in the vicinity of water streams. The untreated solid waste remains scattered along the roadsides, open spaces and water sources contributing to filthy living conditions. People carelessly dump the household garbage onto roads and slopes or in drains. Unplanned discarding of solid waste is triggering the ground water contamination. Surface water contamination by runoff from the garbage, foul smell, pests, rodents, stray animals and wind-driven garbage around the dumping sites are disquieting the publicand giving a shabby look to the entire landscape. Monsoon drift of solid wastes is a usual trend in the town which sometimes poses threats of epidemics. The solid waste with high percentage of plastic is common in the commercial and market areas,like Gujjar market and slum dwellings. Plastic decreases the rate of rainwater percolation and consequently drops the water table level thus threatening the aquatic life. Plastic reduces the soil fertility and deteriorates its quality. Littering of plastic waste is giving a nasty and insanitary look to entire town.

In the market and commercial places, the shopkeepers burn the packaging material and other trash, like cartons and plastic bags during the winters. The fumes emitted on burning this material cause itching sensation in eyes, headache, nausea, besides allergic hypersensitivity in case of prolonged exposure. The fumes emitted by trash fires contain chemicals which cause bronchoconstriction in asthma patients and infants are more susceptible to these effects. Instead of burning, the cartons should be reused and recycled.

The problem of waste water and sewerage management has also increased several folds over the years. Around 90% of the waste water and sewerage remains untreated, causing widespread water pollution. Sewage, the subset of wastewater,polluted with fecal matter or urine, contains domestic, municipal or industrial liquid waste products disposed-off normally through a pipe. The town lacks planned sewerage disposal mechanism. In many areas of Rajouri town, the fecal matter is flushed into the drains or released inthe nearby water sources.In some areas, people still prefer open defecation. The wastewater is directly released into the water bodies without proper treatment.This is callously polluting the surroundings and resulting in health hazards among the community exposed to it.

Biomedical waste is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals. It includes non-liquid tissue, body parts, blood, blood products and body fluids, laboratory and veterinary wastes which contain human disease causing agents. The biomedical waste too remains untreated in the town. Biomedical waste poses harm and exposure hazards. Besides a district hospital, there is one old hospital, few private health centers and testing laboratories in Rajouri which are generating biomedical waste. There is a poor segregation and classification procedure of biomedical wastes in all healthcare institution. The staff dealing with biomedical waste lack managerial skill. In most healthcare centers located in Rajouri the strict execution of infection control measures like sterilization and disinfecting techniques are absent. In absence of proper mechanism, most of the biomedical waste is dumped flexibly.
There are several treatment methods that can accomplish management of solid waste and wastewater treatment. As far as plastic waste is concerned land filling can turn out to be aneffective method for its disposal. In the year 2008, the J&K Government launched the Solid Waste Management Project at Thandapani, Sundarbani,but it remained non-functional till 2012. Focusing on vermi-composting under Special Task Force, similar projects have been proposed for other small town including Rajouri.
Though efforts have been made to relegate the nuisance caused due to solid waste and wastewater, but still there is need of a committed Solid Waste Management Unit to streamline the design, construction, processing and care processes. Municipal Committee must reinforce bylaws to encourage the residents for adopting the practices of reduce, reuse and recycle. The Committee should encourage suitable techniques for composting of bio-degradable waste at source, subject to the availability of space.

Municipal Committee and State Pollution Control Board must ensure strict enactment of waste management and handling rules. Municipal Committee needs to institutionalize the system of approving building layouts with suitable on-site wastewater treatment systems. It should search for execution of waste water treatment systems. Reuse of waste water treatment byproducts must be explored, for instance, production of biogas, development of green belt, creation of artificial lakes and ponds for recreational purpose and agronomy.

Rajouri needs a proper biomedical waste management plan which can eradicate the waste’s hazards and ensure its safe disposal. Incineration of biomedical waste must be encouraged for its proper disposal. Awareness campaigns must be organized to publicize the benefits of optimal sanitary practices. People have to be made aware of health hazards emanating from solid waste, biomedical waste and waste water.
Nature is a vital component of human life since it provides enough to fulfill the basic requirements of man. Inability of recognizing the indispensable services offered by the nature leads to ecological disturbances. Rajouri or ‘the land of kings’, as it was, is facing all these problems and if a well-thought-out approach is not adopted, the problems will become frightening and uncontrollable.A tangible action plan and community involvement is the need of the hour to uphold and reinstate the legacy of Rajouri, before it fades into oblivion.

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