In Delhi, around 4,000 tonnes of construction waste is generated every day.(HT Photo)
In Delhi, around 4,000 tonnes of construction waste is generated every day.(HT Photo)

Let’s fight pollution: Choked in dusty Delhi

Construction dust is a potential killer in Delhi-NCR region where builders show scant regard for rules to curb pollution on project sites
By mariyam.alavi@hindustantimes.com | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 08, 2016 03:44 PM IST

For the past over a decade, an unending cycle of construction has enveloped the Delhi-NCR region in a persistent blanket of dust.

Behind this blanket thousands of workers work quietly, most often in dangerous conditions without any protective gear, exposed to life-threatening pollutants. However, it’s a tough choice for them to make. Livelihood far outweighs safety and health concerns. Unscrupulous builders and contractors, despite challans and penalties imposed by state governments on the orders of the National Green Tribunal, still cut corners and show scant regard to the ministry of environment’s guidelines for curbing pollution at construction sites.

In Delhi, around 4,000 tonnes of construction waste is generated every day. This constitutes around 40% of the total waste generated in the city. In an affidavit submitted by the ministry of environment and forest to the Supreme Court in January 2015, it was noted that dust particles were the highest source of pollution in Delhi. Dust contributed to 52% of particulate matter in the air with vehicular emissions contributing to only 6.6%.

Read: PWD sprinkles water on road to reduce dust pollution

Delhi corporations clear 300 building plans every month. Additionally, construction is carried out on plots smaller than 105 square metres, which don’t require approval as per the unified bylaws. And construction in unauthorised colonies is not regulated.

At a site in Safdarjung enclave, labourers admitted that breathing becomes difficult during work and they have to keep their faces covered with cloth – their only protection against dust or any other construction-related dangers. However, most changed their stories immediately when asked to go on the record. “We face no difficulties here,” was the common refrain.

When pushed a little further an older man said they will not say anything, even if they have to keep facing difficulties. “Of course pollution is bad for our health. We know it. We have been living with cough and breathing problems. However, you need to understand we are daily wage earners. If our contractors and bosses find out that we spoke to the media about how the working conditions are bad here, they will never call us for a job again. Now, we might be coughing, but at least our tummies are full,” he said.

The socio-economic backgrounds that many construction workers come from mean that they cannot afford to nit-pick. Many are the sole bread winners of their family like Farid.

Farid said that he recently moved to Delhi to try and make enough of a living to help support his family of six. Farid works at a construction site in Lajpat Nagar. “I had cough when I started. Now, I think I am getting used to the dust. When I feel like complaining, I think of my family member’s faces; this keeps me going,” he said.

Many of these workers do not have protective gear. A little further down the road from the Safdarjung site, closer to Krishna Nagar, a smaller construction site has three young men hard at work. Two of them don’t look a day older than 16, but their rough hands speak of experiences beyond their age. They are both new to Delhi, and have just come in from Bihar. This is their first time at a construction site. “We have never worked at construction sites before. It is a new experience. It takes some time getting used to,” one of them said. When asked if they have been experiencing any health issues, they look at each other, pass a quick glance over to their supervisor, and say “No.”

However, on further questioning, they conceded that they have not been provided with protective gear by the supervisors. They work sans helmets, gloves or even masks. “We usually just tie a towel around our heads and use the same to cover our faces,” he said.

Particulate matter is the common enemy of these workers. In the short-term, exposure to particulate matter (both 10 and 2.5) can aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases like asthma, cough, allergies, etc. However, if people are exposed to these emissions for long and continued periods of time, they are at risk for lung cancer.

Read: Air we breathe: Act now or forever hold your breath

A research paper released by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in November 2015 says higher levels of coarse particles in the air was leading to an increase in cardiovascular-related hospital stay for people 65 years and older in the US.

“The most harmful element in construction matter is silica which often escapes the human body’s filter mechanism. Over a period of time, it shrinks lung capacity and makes the person vulnerable to all kinds of infections,” says Dr Neeraj Jain, chest specialist at Ganga Ram Hospital.

When such dangerous consequences lie ahead, it is especially worrying when people claim that they have been used to it. “We have a little cough every now and then, but I think we are now used to it. We are used to working on farms in our own villages, so the dust does not bother us. It is not so bad here. Ab toh aadat si padh gayi hain,” said a construction worker. However, in the same breath, he warned the reporter against coming any closer to the construction site. “This is real potent stuff. It can burn your eyes, irritate your nose and even choke you. You are better off not coming in,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
AAP supporters during party convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's roadshow for MCD by-elections in Shalimar Bagh village, New Delhi,(PTI)
AAP supporters during party convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's roadshow for MCD by-elections in Shalimar Bagh village, New Delhi,(PTI)

AAP, BJP and Congress gear up for Delhi MCD by-polls tomorrow

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 03:17 PM IST
The five wards where by-polls will be conducted are Ward No 32N, (Rohini-C); Ward No 62N, (Shalimar Bagh North) in north Delhi and Ward No 02-E (Trilokpuri); Ward No 08-E (Kalyanpuri) and Ward No 41-E (Chauhan Bangar) in east Delhi.
Close
The police have registered a case against the accused who fled the spot. (File Photo)
The police have registered a case against the accused who fled the spot. (File Photo)

‘Cop said he didn’t see any blood’, alleges woman whose stalkers stabbed brother

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:01 PM IST
The woman’s statement came after her brother was beaten up and stabbed by three men in the national capital’s Kalkaji area.
Close
A fire broke out at a factory in Delhi's Pratap Nagar area on Saturday morning. (ANI Photo)
A fire broke out at a factory in Delhi's Pratap Nagar area on Saturday morning. (ANI Photo)

1 found dead at factory fire site in Delhi’s Pratap Nagar

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 09:26 AM IST
The fire broke out after a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder exploded in the premises, eyewitnesses were quoted as saying by ANI.
Close
The arrested persons were identified by their first names -- Johnny alias Shiva, the key suspect, his cousin Naresh, Kailash and Tarun.(HT Archives. Representative image)
The arrested persons were identified by their first names -- Johnny alias Shiva, the key suspect, his cousin Naresh, Kailash and Tarun.(HT Archives. Representative image)

9-year-old girl kidnapped, killed in east Delhi village

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:32 AM IST
Four alleged kidnappers, who live in the same neighbourhood as the girl’s family, have been arrested in connection with the kidnap and murder.
Close
According to experts, the liquor business in Delhi is shrouded in opacity and controlled by a handful of individuals or groups.(File photo. Representative image)
According to experts, the liquor business in Delhi is shrouded in opacity and controlled by a handful of individuals or groups.(File photo. Representative image)

Business of liquor needs a major detox

By Abhishek Dey, Sweta Goswami
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:31 AM IST
In 2019-20, the city government pegged its revenue from the liquor business at 5,500 crore -- roughly 11% of its total revenue of 51,000 crore. Among major states, an HT analysis showed only in Karnataka and Telangana, liquor revenue formed a bigger percentage of the state’s revenue.
Close
Delhi conducted 62,768 tests, as per Friday’s bulletin, of which 41,775 used the gold standard RT-PCR method, while the rest used the rapid antigen method.(AFP Photo)
Delhi conducted 62,768 tests, as per Friday’s bulletin, of which 41,775 used the gold standard RT-PCR method, while the rest used the rapid antigen method.(AFP Photo)

Delhi sees 256 fresh Covid cases, highest single day spike in 35 days

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:26 AM IST
Further, Delhi’s Covid-19 test positivity rate has also increased gradually over the past few days, hitting 0.41% — the highest recorded in the Capital since January 29.
Close
The mishap, which happened at around 11.45 pm has been captured on a CCTV camera installed outside a shop in the market.(HT Archives. Representative image)
The mishap, which happened at around 11.45 pm has been captured on a CCTV camera installed outside a shop in the market.(HT Archives. Representative image)

Delhi: 55-year-old mowed down by speeding car in Vasant Vihar

By Karn Pratap Singh, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:19 AM IST
The driver of the car, who, according to the police, was taking a joyride with his friends ran away, but was arrested on Friday morning. The police said that based on a medical examination conducted on Friday, he was not drunk at the time of the incident.
Close
Mr Muhammed parks his bicycle on the side of the road, and seems to think hard.
Mr Muhammed parks his bicycle on the side of the road, and seems to think hard.

Delhiwale: For him, waste is wealth

By Mayank Austen Soofi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:13 AM IST
Calling himself a “kabadi walla,” or trash collector, Wali Muhammed says he cycles around south Delhi’s Green Park, his trash collector’s voice echoing off the walls of the bungalows lining up the quiet alleys.
Close
Covid-19 testing setup for the passenger coming from United Kingdom, amid mounting concern over the new strain of the virus, at Delhi Airport in New Delhi.(PTI)
Covid-19 testing setup for the passenger coming from United Kingdom, amid mounting concern over the new strain of the virus, at Delhi Airport in New Delhi.(PTI)

Delhi airport’s Terminal 1 likely to be reopened from March 25

By Anvit Srivastava, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 01:43 AM IST
Airport officials said only a portion of the terminal will be made operational for now, as the ongoing expansion work of the building will continue. For now, the terminal will cater to approximately half the number of flights it handled before the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Close
The petition, filed through advocates Vrinda Grover and Soutik Banerjee, has sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the death of the young farmer.(AP file photo)
The petition, filed through advocates Vrinda Grover and Soutik Banerjee, has sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the death of the young farmer.(AP file photo)

No gunshot wounds on man who died during R-Day : Delhi, UP cops tell Delhi HC

PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 12:27 AM IST
The police of the two states have made the submission based on the post-mortem and X-Ray reports, given by the District Hospital at Rampur in UP, which prima facie states that “there was no gunshot injury in the body of the deceased”.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Delhi sees 256 fresh Covid cases, highest single day spike in 35 days

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:19 PM IST
The Capital saw its highest single-day rise in Covid-19 infections in 35 days on Friday, adding 256 fresh cases of the infection
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Winds keep Delhi mercury from breaking February record, temperature to dip this weekend

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:15 PM IST
Strong winds came to the rescue of Delhi’s residents, keeping the city’s temperatures from soaring on Friday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Minor girl kidnapped from near Kalyanpuri three days ago murdered, body found in Modinagar fields

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:13 PM IST
The body of a nine-year-old girl, who was kidnapped from east Delhi’s Khichripur three days ago, was found in the sugarcane fields of a village in Modinagar, near Ghaziabad, on Friday morning, the police said, adding that the autopsy has ruled out sexual assault
Close
The panel also suggested that full liquor bottles be allowed on tables and alcohol be served in open areas.representational photo(HT_PRINT)
The panel also suggested that full liquor bottles be allowed on tables and alcohol be served in open areas.representational photo(HT_PRINT)

Delhi govt warns clubs, hotels against using liquor bottles without 2D bar-code

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 05:42 PM IST
  • The move comes after it was found during an inspection that bars at some establishments were using liquor and beer bottles which did not have 2D bar-code and those that were not readable.
Close
Representational image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Delhi: 55-year-old man killed in a hit-and-run in Vasant Vihar

By Karn Pratap Singh
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:15 AM IST
Vasant Vihar police have registered a case of rash and negligent driving causing death and efforts are on to nab the errant driver
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP