Punjabi Bagh, Mundka in West Delhi join pollution ‘hotspots’ list
The areas of Mundka and Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi have become the newest addition to the list of pollution “hotspots” in Delhi as they have been recording “very poor” to “severe” levels of air quality for at least a fortnight.
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on Thursday asked the Delhi government to submit a report regarding these areas, which are known hubs of industrial activity. The agencies are also expected to list possible solutions to Delhi’s chief secretary for preparing a time-bound action to improve the air quality in these two areas.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) value of Mundka on Thursday was recorded at 437 (in ‘severe’ category) while Punjabi Bagh stood at 322 (in the very poor’ category).
“Large-scale waste burning during night has been found as the major reason behind spiking of pollution levels in these areas. This also includes industrial waste from a number of shoe-making factories which are burning rubber soles and plastic. We have asked the agencies concerned to submit the report of issue and possible solutions to the chief secretary for time-bound action,” said EPCA chairman Bhure Lal.
The smoke from large-scale waste burning is more damaging than the burning of agriculture residue in neighbouring states, Lal added.
A report on pollution levels in Punjabi Bagh prepared by an EPCA member highlighted waste burning as the major contributor to constantly high AQI in the area. “Beyond Punjabi Bagh, Azadpur village and Azadpur mandi are also the spots where unpaved paths and severe traffic congestion have been resulting in foul air,” he said.
Besides, EPCA has asked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and pollution control boards of NCR cities, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, to form a team each headed by an officer for patrolling the ‘hotspots’ both during the day and night. These hotspots include Anand Vihar ISBT, Kaushambi bus depot, Bawana-Narela, Punjabi Bagh, Mundka, Bhalaswa, Dwarka, Nangloi, Sahibabad, Gurugram, Bhiwadi and Faridabad.
Despite EPCA’s earlier direction for night patrolling of these areas, DPCC and other government agencies are yet to start the exercise. The SC-body had also imposed a penalty ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh on government agencies and private builders for flouting environment norms.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said it has formed teams to conduct rounds of neighbourhoods prone to cases of burning leaves and garbage, especially during the night. A senior SDMC official said, “The teams will visit the neighbourhoods round the clock and check incidents of garbageburning. They will issue warnings and spot fines. During night, they will focus on security guards and vendors burning wood to fight cold.”