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‘Umm Al-Haiman’ residents seek damages, new homes

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Pollution ups respiratory, skin diseases

KUWAIT CITY, July 20: Against the background of the Court of Cassation’s assertion that the Umm al-Haiman area is not suitable for housing because it has turned into a hotbed of pollution, a number of citizens residing in the area revealed that they intend to file new cases against the concerned government authorities to compensate them for the damages they have sustained over the past years, as well as to demand that they be given alternative housing in other areas, reports Al-Qabas daily. A tour of Umm Al-Haiman revealed the increasing suffering of the people due to the emission of fumes from dozens of factories close to the houses. The citizens indicated that they had submitted complaints more than once to the government authorities to save them from the clutches of pollution, but none of the officials have acted.

The people confirmed to Al-Qabas that the government committees had previously submitted many reports to the Council of Ministers about the environmental danger that results from some factories and their lack of commitment to environmental impact studies, in addition to the increasing rates of harmful emissions and the health danger to them, as many of their residents suffer from respiratory and skin diseases. It is the highest among the rest of the regions without real and urgent action.

In addition, members of the Environmental Voluntary Committee for the people of the area told the daily that the ruling of the Court of Cassation recently issued is among a series of rulings obtained by the residents regarding the rejection of environmental encroachments and violations committed by some factories, which expose them to emissions and health hazards but everything has fallen on deaf ears of the government agencies.

They said the government is required, after the last ruling issued the day before yesterday, to act immediately to stop the violation of environmental security by some factories, and to implement the step of closing 37 factories that violated environmental impact studies according to a government report, in which several government agencies participated, and it was submitted to the Council of Ministers during the era of HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak. They stressed that the move to close the violating factories will have a major role in solving the problem of harmful emissions by more than 90% in Umm al-Haiman, especially since the government report submitted to the Council of Ministers indicated the seriousness of the emissions emitted by those factories.

A scientific study issued by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research carried out over 6 months on the Umm al- Haiman area revealed the danger of emissions emitted by violating factories and their harm to the population, as it formed the basis to plead before the courts. They mentioned that the Umm al-Haiman is one of the beautiful and distinguished areas, and the aim of the cases and rulings is not to call for its valuation and finding a residential alternative for citizens, but rather to stop pollution.

Member of the Environmental Committee, Mansour Al- Marri stated that after completing the judicial ruling in its three degrees, obtaining the rulings in the interest of the people, and proving the damage caused to them as a result of the environmental air pollution in the area, it became imperative for the concerned authorities to move and implement the ruling in the interest of Umm Al-Haiman residents. He stated that the problem continues and gets worse due to the continued distribution of industrial lands in Shuaiba Industrial, knowing that there is a decision by the Council of Ministers not to distribute industrial plots in this area, which contributed to an increase in the percentage of pollutants, gas emissions and factory dust. 5 dangerous indicators in Umm al-Haiman include the increase in cancer patients and strokes due to pollution, high rates of asthma among the population, the increase of pollutant compounds in the airspace of the region, high rates of harmful activities and increased levels of sulfur and asphyxiating carbon monoxide.

Doctors and specialists in environmental studies confirmed that the government did not respond to the studies conducted before the establishment of the Ali Sabah Al-Salem (formerly Umm Al-Haiman) suburb area, which warn of the dangers of industrial pollutants resulting from activities near the area, especially those located in Al-Zour, Shuaiba and Mina Abdullah, which increase asthma and respiratory ailments, heart attacks and cancer, due to the increased levels of sulfur, asphyxiating carbon monoxide, and toxic gases. Specialized experts pointed out that the data issued by the health authorities confirm that the rates of visitors to the health center in “Umm Al-Haiman” are 6 times higher than those to health centers in other regions. In addition, an official source warned against the expansion of harmful emissions in other areas, pointing out that the Fahaheel residential area is a candidate for “another Umm Hayman” due to its proximity to factories and activities harmful to the environment.

Environmental activist Saad Al-Hayyan pointed out that the verdict of the Court of Cassation won for the citizens, stressing that the highest recorded cases of respiratory infections and cancerous diseases, according to the reports of the Ministry of Health, is located in Umm Al-Hayman, calling for urgent solutions.

The air quality application of the Environment Public Authority revealed that the gases rates in its monitoring stations in the Ali Sabah Al-Salem area from 2005 to 2021 recorded different readings and at close rates but it was rather high on the national standard set in some readings. Regarding the reading of nitrogen dioxide (No2), the application showed an increase in annual readings from 2013 to 2017 above the normal rate, where it reached 0.053 degrees in 2017, while the national standard specified for this gas was 0.030, while during the past three years it was within the normal range. Regarding the ozone gas (O3), according to the readings, it was within the normal range of the specified national standard, as emissions did not exceed 0.03 degrees from 2005 to 2021.

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