The ongoing strike by municipal corporation employees is polluting the city’s air as people are burning garbage that has not been cleared for nearly a week now by striking sanitation workers.
Heaps of garbage have been piling up in most localities in east and north Delhi with over one lakh municipal employees on an indefinite strike.
Burning waste is banned in the city and is punishable with a fine of R5,000. But because of the ongoing strike, there are no municipal officials to check and punish those who are burning garbage on the streets.
Hindustan Times spotted burning heaps of garbage at Gandhi Nagar’s Shanti Mohalla, Kanti Nagar, Jheel Khurinja and Patparganj Road in east Delhi.
BS Vohra, president of East Delhi RWAs Joint Front (Federation), said incidents of people burning garbage on roads had gone up. He said since garbage was piling up at homes and dump yards, people were openly burning waste. “Since garbage is not cleared due to the strike, it is being burnt at various places almost daily. The residents are bearing the brunt of the inefficiency of government agencies,” Vohra said.
Vohra said Jagatpuri, Preet Vihar, Kanti Nagar, Azad Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Vishwas Nagar, Ghazipur, Patparganj and Seelampur -- all in east Delhi -- were the worst affected. “The drain on road number 57, which runs through the entire east Delhi, is now being used as an open garbage dump. It is sad that despite being the most polluted city in the world, we are yet to understand the gravity of the problem and adding to it by burning waste,” Vohra said.
Though vehicular emission is the biggest contributor of pollutants in the city , 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, which can get lodged deep inside a person’s lungs, can result in cough, wheezing and even a heart attack or a stroke.
To combat air pollution in the city and to comply with the National Green Tribunal ’s order, the environment department had earlier authorised sub-divisional magistrates and tehsildars of the revenue department to fine people who burn waste.