Cannot blame crackers alone

Civic bodies have failed to control open burning of garbage, dust pollution

Cracker smoke is not the only contributor to the pollution woes of Delhiites.

Despite several warnings of worsening air quality before winter, the municipalities turned a blind eye to pollution caused by open burning of waste, and improper disposal of construction and demolition waste.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, open waste burning contributes 18% of direct particulate matter to the air in Delhi

Crucial period

Between August and October 15 — a period that is crucial to ensuring air quality does not dip to dangerous levels in the winter — this year, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) did not issue a single fine for open burning of waste. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation, meanwhile, fined only 10 people

Environmentalists say that these three months before the onset of winter are crucial because it ascertains the quality of air for the rest of the season.

The moisture and heaviness in the atmosphere after November does not allow dust and pollution particles to be blown away causing air quality to worsen.

“Fire crackers might be a primary contributor towards Friday’s poor air quality, but there are other things, which have also not gone well for Delhi. Dust and open burning have been found to be the biggest contributors to air pollution, and this can be controlled if government agencies take the necessary action,” said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner at Green Peace India.

Stringent fines

Last year too, though 346 challans were issued by the three municipalities for waste burning, only 90 were issued between August and October. The SDMC, in fact, did not issue any fine for burning garbage, dried leaves, paper and plastic in that period.

The violation attracts a fine of ₹5,000 for simple burning of waste.

However, last year the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed a nationwide ban on open burning of waste and increased the fine to ₹25,000.

Pradeep Tiwari, an environment activist who had filed a petition in the NGT against open burning of waste by sanitation workers in 2016, said that the violation is caused primarily by the sanitation workers of the civic bodies itself.

“Why would they challan their own staff? Most of the sanitation staff employed by municipal bodies is on contract. There is no way of checking how they dispose off waste. The government needs to implement a comprehensive waste segregation and disposal plan before it talks about pollution caused because of garbage burning,” he said.

A senior official from the north corporation denied knowledge of such instances and said in case any sanitation or horticulture worker is found burning garbage in the open he is liable to a fine of ₹5,000.

“The sanitation worker is responsible to keep a check on such activities and apart from the fine the worker is also liable to disciplinary action,” the official said.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:49:45 AM |

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