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Schools adding to environmental damage in absence of waste management policy

Srinagar, Dec 13: There is no solid waste management policy for the Valley-based schools.

Solid waste is one of the most serious environmental problems, given its high negative impact on natural resources.

 

Yet, the schools do not follow any solid waste management policy, even as they are among the largest producers of solid waste.

An official from a leading school in the valley said, “Segregation is the first step in waste management but is rarely implemented. All waste is usually dumped together in a pit, often in some corner or behind school buildings.”

“It is regularly burnt too. Some of the organic waste finds its way under trees and plants.”

Schools with ample grounds routinely make do with such practices, but those with little land are left grappling with mounds of waste.

“With no large space for dumping the waste, the heaps of waste in the abandoned corners behind the school buildings emanate foul smell,” said a teacher from a government boys’ school.

Another staffer from the government school said, “All the waste lying around is an eyesore, not to mention that it attracts pests.”

To aggravate the problem, the amount of plastic waste in schools generated on days when examinations are held is substantial.

Further, the schools near residential areas complain that waste collected on street corners is dragged by canines to their gates at night.

Some teachers also allege that Corporation workers burn plastic and other waste near school premises.

They echoed, “School staff has to take the initiative for managing as much waste as possible. Students, they argue, will not be serious about waste management if they don’t see it being practised in their own institutions.”

Director Pollution Control Board (PCB), Syed Nadeem Hussain, accepted that there was no separate solid waste management policy for schools.

“There is no such policy as such. The waste generated by the schools is handled by the Municipal Corporation. Besides, waste is not much of concern for us as it isn’t hazardous in nature.”

While the health officer Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Dr Qazi Javaid said, “We always collect the waste in segregated form. The corporation also apprises the new schools registered with us about the hazards of the waste and how to manage it.”

Senior Scientist and Head of Biomedical Waste Management Cell, PCB, Dr Sabeena, contradicted the SMC’s claims.

“No segregation of waste ever takes place in schools. We always receive the mixed waste at the dumping sites though we made the waste management rules clear to SMC time and again,” she said.