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By: Muneeb Afzal

Self interest is one of the defining features of human nature. There is an inner impulse in all of us which instigates us to strive for pleasure and happiness and avoid pains and suffering. The will for economic prosperity is fundamental and one of the central points in everybody’s life. However, being part of society which is inhabited by many, we have certain moral and social responsibilities towards others as well. We have to strike a proper balance between our considerations for self and our duties for others. But often we lose sight of our social responsibilities as a result of our desire to satisfy our extreme notion of self interest. This is manifested in many of our actions and conduct. One of the ample manifestations of our negligence towards social responsibilities can be found in what we are doing to our environment which is not a private property of anybody but a common asset of all of us.

The environment which feeds everybody and in return demands a collective effort for its protection is facing the most reckless and negligent behaviour from us. We have completely distorted our relationship with our environment by amassing from it as much as we can and in return are reluctant to give anything. In a number of ways we have been highly aggressive and actually we have waged a war against our environment. It is quite easy to cite hundreds of examples which can serve as a testimony to our careless and irresponsible behaviour towards our environment.  However in view of the current harvesting season which has just started, it is imperative to write about the stubble burning in the open which has devastating effects on the environment.

As the harvesting season has just begun, the deterioration in the air quality can be easily predicted across Kashmir as a result of stubble burning. The burning of stubble in the fields actually poisons the air by emitting harmful gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide etc. As a result of the emission of these gases, the quality of air is given a serious blow. The deteriorating quality of air has many serious consequences on our health. Apart from causing the burning sensation in our eyes and making it difficult to come in the open, inhaling the poisonous smoke affects our health in many other ways.

Apart from polluting the air, the burning of this agricultural biomass does not spare the soil as well. The stubble burning leads to the loss of many essential nutrients in the soil thereby reducing its fertility. And further the essential microbial activity in the soil is also affected badly deteriorating the quality of soil further. To compensate this loss, we have to use an additional quantity of fertilizers. So apart from affecting our health by raising air pollution, the stubble burning puts on us an additional economic cost by affecting the fertility of soil as well.

It is clear that what we do to our environment is tantamount to what we do to ourselves. Our reckless and negligent behaviour towards our environment rebounds and results in very harmful consequences for us. In addition to the impact on human beings, pollution of environment has disastrous repercussions for other living things as well. The animal, plants, microorganisms, birds etc all get affected as a result of our negligent behaviour towards our environment. So because of our carelessness and negligence, we encroach upon the rights of other creations as well.

Let us take a pledge that this year we will not burn the stubble and thereby we will not let our soothing air be poisonous. We must find some appropriate means of managing this agricultural biomass.  It is a step not only for our environmental protection but for our protection and well being as well. It is a step to honour the rights of other creations which they possess on this earth. We must not act as masters in this world but we must act as partners with other creations in this world. Let us have a sense of desperation and commitment towards protecting our environment. Better is being responsible at present than regretful in future.

  • The writer hails from Bijbehara and is a student. He can be reached at [email protected].

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