Awantipora, Nov 22: Vice Chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, Shakil Ahmad Romshoo Wednesday attributed the haze and fog enveloping northern parts of India including Jammu and Kashmir to “crop burning and temperature inversion phenomenon”.
In an exclusive interview with Greater Kashmir, Romshoo, whose research interests include hydrology, glaciology, geoinformatics, and climate change, discussed the causes of haze and smog blankets and shared insights on precautionary measures.
He said that Kashmir normally experienced a blanket of haze and smog at the end of autumn and the beginning of winter.
“There are largely two reasons for it. First, this is the season when people burn leaves and twigs after pruning their orchards and second, the temperatures significantly plummet around this time. Both these things work in tandem to spur a thick layer of smog or haze,” Romshoo said.
He said that a few years ago the government issued an advisory against the burning of leaves and twigs and suggested other scientific means for their disposal.
Romshoo said that the people resorting to such practices should follow the advisory and the government should also come forward to help people in the disposal of leaves and twigs.
On whether the situation would go downhill in the coming days, he said, “As the temperature will dip further in the coming days and people continue burning leaves and twigs, the situation is bound to get worse. You see the fog has engulfed the Valley and already started stymieing the air traffic. I believe this phenomenon will worsen in the coming weeks.”
Romshoo said that the current climatic conditions could have a direct impact on human health.
“Kashmir valley is like a bowl and during the winters, a planetary boundary layer sets in and it does not allow the pollutants to escape,” he said.
Romshoo said that over the past few days, the particulate concentration in Kashmir had been very high, which was not good for human health, particularly for those suffering from respiratory diseases.
“There must be a health advisory,” he said.
Romshoo said that if there were rains in the coming week, the situation would improve drastically as the particulate matter and smog in the atmosphere get deposited.
However, he said that other human-related activities needed to be checked.
Underscoring the need for precautions, the IUST Vice Chancellor said that it was very crucial to avoid burning leaves and twigs openly, which was very rampant during this season.
“People, particularly children and elderly, should wear masks as they are more vulnerable to diseases during this season. The use of masks can minimise the adverse impact of high particulate matter concentration present in the environment,” he said.