The 48-hour Seemandhra bandh called by the APNGOs JAC in protest against the nod given by the Union Cabinet for creation of a separate Telangana State triggered widespread protests across the 13 districts in the region.

Thick dark toxic smoke billowing from vehicle tyres burnt in straight rows laid across main roads to block the traffic was a common sight during the bandh period.

Fumes continued to rise till afternoon at some places while at others, the residue of the burnt material lay strewn. “Burning rubber creates noxious fumes and makes it difficult to put the fire out. Discarded tyres are easily available to create a barrier for vehicular movement while also saying: “We are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore,” murmured a passer-by who paused for a while at a residue-deposit.

When tyres are burned, they generate particulate matter or particle pollution, a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids, organic chemicals, metals or dust particles.

“Sulphur, which is added at the time of manufacturing a tyre to give strength to it, comes out when it is burnt. It is a common knowledge that burning tyres in the open is extremely harmful to human health and the environment. The fumes emitted are packed with many toxic chemicals that vehicle tyres contain,” says an environmental engineer.

The scores of rag-pickers that dot every nook and cranny of the city fan out in the aftermath of the tyre-burning activity to pick up tiny iron scraps and half-burnt wood pieces used in the fire. Ironically, the young kids who survive on the discard manage to find something to pick even from the residue of unwanted material consigned to flames.

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