Open waste burning causing pollution spike in Delhi, finds anti-pollution body
The season of crop stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana is over, but the pollution level in the national capital continued to shoot up till Thursday’s rain respite.
With the temperature dropping and the wind speed slowing down over the last week, Delhi’s air had deteriorated to ‘severe’ on Thursday. In many parts of the city, this was because of the air getting filled with remnants of rampant garbage and leaf burning, and also due to small fires lit by people to warm themselves.
Data by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that between October 7 and November 21, this year, 2,900 complaints of pollution norm violations were recorded. Out of these, 966 complaints comprised cases of garbage burning and open dumping of waste.
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Data shows that in this period, 197 were cases of burning and 773 were complaints related to open dumping of waste. Nearly 16.7% of waste burning cases were reported from north Delhi, followed by northwest district, which contributed 12.69% complaints and northeast Delhi where 7.10% of the total garbage burning cases happened.
Senior officials said the problem of garbage and leaf burning has, over the last two weeks, becoming a major source of pollution in the city.
Officials on inspection teams said that around fields near Akshardham, Najafgarh and in Nangloi, a layer of smoke envelops the air every night, leaving a strong burning smell.
“The problem is by the time we get a complaint and reach the spot to douse the fire, most of the damage has already been done. Even while acting real time, checking fires is difficult,” said an official on the east Delhi pollution monitoring team.
While the effect of such sources are acting up because of the unfavourable weather conditions, the numbers in itself have gone up because many homeless people, labourers and people living in shanties have started lighting local fires to keep themselves warm.
“It is not possible to keep a check on such small fires, also because it is unfair on these poor people because lighting a fire is the only way for them to keep themselves warm. But we are taking serious action against garbage burning and open fires,” said a senior CPCB official.
Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) chairperson, Bhure Lal said that enforcement agencies have been given strict instruction that action needs to be stepped up to check cases of open fires, especially in the 13 pollution hot spots identified by the Delhi government.
“Most of the contents of waste that is burned are plastic. In industrial areas, rubber and metal is burnt, which is carcinogenic upon burning. I have had several meetings with agencies where we have given them directions that laxity in checking this will not be tolerated,” said Lal.