Delhi officials told to ensure guards and homeless people have electric heaters
To curb the practice waste-burning during winter, Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain on Tuesday directed officials to ensure electric heaters are provided at all night shelters and to guards across government offices.
The directive assumes significance as garbage burning sees a spike with winter intensifying in the city. Those who have to bear the chill by being out in the open at night often resort to burning of leaves and waste to stay warm.
A study by IIT Kanpur on sources of air pollution submitted to the government states waste burning contributes 3% to Delhi’s PM2.5 levels and 1% to PM10 levels.
“Provide electrical heaters to security guards in cold winter night to discourage burning of biomass for heating. Non-biomass heating facility should be provided at all night shelters,” Hussain wrote in his letter to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) chief, Keshav Chandra.
The DPCC said it is going to issue orders to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to strictly ensure electrical heaters are provided in every night shelter in Delhi. Though a 2014 survey by DUSIB records the number of homeless people in Delhi at 16,000, NGOs estimate that the number may run up to a lakh people or more.
“Despite providing shelter to 15,774 people, it is found that almost all of them step out and sit in groups around a fire lit from waste. This happens almost in every nook and corner of Delhi during peak winters,” a DUSIB official said.
RWAs on board
Following the measures under the Supreme Court mandated Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), civic agencies have already started informing Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to provide security guards and other support staff with electric heaters in housing societies and gated colonies.
“Our teams are conducting drives early in the morning and at night where RWAs are being informed about the directive from the SC-appointed EPCA. In the next phase and once winter set in, the drive would be intensified where notices would be issued to non-complying RWAs,” said an official of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The state pollution control board is also issuing orders to every Delhi government building to ensure electric heaters are provided to the guards.
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