Burning leaves or garbage in the open in Delhi and its periphery would invite a fine of Rs 5,000, the National Green Tribunal said Tuesday in yet another order aimed at cleaning the Capital’s dirty air.
Criticising the New Delhi Municipal Council for “cooking up stories and telling lies”, NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said a person found burning or “abetting burning” of leaves, plastic, rubber or garbage in the Capital and rest of the national capital region would pay the fine on the spot.
In a similar order, the Delhi government in 2012 had banned burning of bio-mass but compliance was patchy. This is the first time that a fine has been imposed.
The green court has in recent months passed a string of orders to reduce air pollution in Delhi that has touched alarmingly high levels.
Though vehicular emissions are the biggest pollutants, burning of garbage and leaves contribute to 29.4% of the air pollution when it comes to particulate matter 10.
Exposure to these small particles that lodge deep in lungs can result in coughing, wheezing and even a heart attack or a stroke.
All government agencies and pollution boards in the region were asked to make public the phone numbers and websites on which leaf-burning could be reported.
The order came on a case of burning of leaves in the Lodi Estate area in the heart of Delhi’s power district. The NDMC, however, told the court its officers and employees were not involved and it must have been “some passerby who threw a cigarette butt or a lit match into the pile of leaves and set it on fire”.
Refusing to accept the civic body’s argument, the court said there were no vagabonds or drug addicts in the Lodi Estate which was a high-security area. “Why cook up all these stories?” Kumar said.
The tribunal also ordered the city government and the Capital’s real estate developer and regulator, the Delhi Development Authority, to identify new landfill sites within three weeks. Six such sites had been marked and the Delhi government told about them, DDA officials said.