Quarries in Fujairah choke residents

FUJAIRAH - Fujairah, which was once the favourite destination of people from across the UAE for camping and weekend relaxation due to its magnificent sceneries and running falajs (canals), is losing its charm and, more dangerously, its healthy environment, thanks to quarrying and massive urbanisation.

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Published: Sun 10 Aug 2008, 12:44 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:01 PM

A haze of dust and smoke has enveloped the emirate, making the residents literally breathe heavy. Even the beaches are not free of dust pollution generated by the quarries.

Around 40 per cent of the Fujairah population suffer from respiratory diseases, according to Dr Sultan Al Muzen, representative of Fujairah on the Federal National Council.

“Fujairah alone is home to 77 quarries. Villagers of Siji and Thuban are besieged by round-the-clock noise from the quarries that kick up harmful dust, threatening the health of the people. Several animals have died and plants withered due to pollution. Date palm farms have dried up. Even wild animals like fox and hyena have abandoned the area,” he said.

“Each household near these quarries has one or two members with lung diseases,' he said.

Dr Nabil Al Marhoumi, Director of the Preventive Medicine Department at the Ministry of Health office in Fujairah, said dust from the quarries is triggering respiratory diseases like asthma among a lot of people in the emirate.

'The people are facing not only the risk of respiratory diseases but also damage to their hearing due to the high noise levels. The quality of underground water is also threatened by the blasts,' he warned.

People living near the cement factories and quarries in Diba say the air and noise pollution is posing a huge health risk.

Mohammed Saeed, a resident of Thuban, said: 'Quarries are just one kilometre away from our houses. Three of my children suffer from asthma and they are using inhalers thrice a day.'

According to him, the quarries do not comply with the rules to protect the environment and health. For instance, they do not use noise filters even in the night.

Abdullah Salim, resident of Ahfera, said: 'The majority of children in the area are suffering from asthma and dyspnea. The green trees have turned brown. The quarries operate in the night to escape the eyes of the municipal inspectors.' Rashid Salim of Siji said the valley has dried up because of the explosions used by the quarries.

The operations manager of a quarry, Rashid, said, 'It's difficult to completely avoid air pollution even if we use filters. We have installed filters worth Dh2.5 million but the quarry is still a source of pollution. We need large quantities of water to be sprinkled on sand to control dust pollution.'

Qasim Ali, Head of the Environment Protection Department of the Fujairah Municipality, said mountains form 77 per cent of the land area in Fujairah. The areas have not been allocated for residential and industrial purposes.

'Blasts at the quarries are conducted safely and there are monitoring stations for air pollution. Most quarries have filters,' he claimed.

The municipality, he affirmed, has taken stringent measures for conservation of the environment and erring quarries have been closed down and fined in the past.

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