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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

NASA satellites spot waste burning in Delhi

‘Red dots’ have been seen in areas such as Narela, Najafgarh and Bawana. Some dots have also appeared in Gurugram.

delhi Updated: Oct 07, 2018 12:33 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Red dots, appearing on the Nasa’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, indicate any kind of active fires, including stubble burning in northwest India, forest fires and even garbage burning.
Red dots, appearing on the Nasa’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, indicate any kind of active fires, including stubble burning in northwest India, forest fires and even garbage burning.
         

Over the last few days, Nasa satellites have picked up several ‘red dots’ inside Delhi, indicating that incidents of waste burning in the open are continuing unabated in the national capital, despite a ban.

Concerned that these incidents could worsen the already deteriorating air quality in Delhi, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and other government agencies to step up vigil.

“Nasa satellites have picked up several red dots within Delhi, in areas such as Narela, Najafgarh and Bawana. Red dots have also appeared in Gurugram. These, however, can’t be incidents of stubble burning as agriculture is not practiced in these areas. These dots mostly likely indicate burning of plastic and garbage in the open in industrial areas,” Bhure Lal, chairman, EPCA, said.

Red dots, appearing on the Nasa’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, indicate any kind of active fires, including stubble burning in northwest India, forest fires and even garbage burning.

“A satellite won’t be able to detect small fires such as a burning matchstick or a chulla (oven) inside a house. The fire has to be big, generate huge amount of heat and should continue for a few hours for satellites to detect it,” a senior official of the DPCC said.

Soon after the southwest monsoon retreated from Delhi on October 1, the air quality of Delhi registered a marked decline. The air quality has remained in the ‘poor’ category for three consecutive days now.

On Saturday the AQI value for Delhi was 209.

On Friday several areas in Delhi such as Bawana, Narela, Delhi Technological University (DTC), Mundka, Dwarka Sector-8 and Anand Vihar recorded ‘very poor’ levels of pollution. Satellite towns such as Gurgaon and Ghaziabad also recorded ‘very poor’ air quality.

EPCA has asked the DPCC to depute ‘environment marshals’ in some of the industrial areas such as Bawana and Narela where authorities apprehend plastic or garbage burning to be going on undetected.

“We already have around 83 environment marshals on the ground. We would depute more in industrial areas to step up vigil. If necessary, more environment marshals would be deployed,” a senior official of the state environment department said.

Since January, environment marshals have flagged around 10,000 violations, helping authorities take action against violators and curb air pollution.

“This year, we already have the required laws, guidelines and bans in place. There is a ban in force on the use of pet coke and furnace oil and DPCC has come up with a list of approved fuel. CPCB has set permissible limits for industries with regard to SO2 and NO2 emissions. We just need to implement them and for this, we require more men on the ground,” Sunita Narain, member, EPCA, said.