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Gurugram warehouses burn trash openly in absence of waste management depot

Plumes of smoke was seen during the burning of industrial waste in Gurugram. A group of citizen activists this week alerted the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram to activities of industrial waste burning in the city’s developing sectors by privately owned godowns and warehouses.

gurgaon Updated: Jul 12, 2019 02:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
gurugram,burning of industrial waste,Dharam Veer Singh
In Gurugram, amid a general slowdown in the real estate market, warehousing business is booming where plumes of smoke has been sighted. (Yogendra Kumar/HT PHOTO)

A day after a group of citizen activists alerted the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) about burning of industrial waste along the newer sectors 50, 52, 62, 67, 72, 80, 82, 83 and 90 by privately owned godowns and warehouses, the civic agency, on Wednesday, surveyed the area and fined one of the violators, who could not be identified, Rs 5,000. Even as activists and residents appreciated the action, they flagged concerns over the quantum of penalty, which they said is paltry, and the absence of industrial waste collection stations for warehouses, which are then forced to dispose of their refuse by burning it.

Dharam Veer Singh, an environmentalist and resident of Sector 82, who had raised the issue this Tuesday, said unlike Old Gurugram, where the MCG has built waste transfer stations, identified bulk waste generators and conducted awareness drives on waste management, the absence of even a single waste disposal facility was “typical of Gurugram’s newer sectors. “Even waste collection trucks are not seen as often,” Singh said.

In Gurugram, amid a general slowdown in the real estate market, warehousing business is booming. The newer sectors have become a hub for warehouses and stockyards due to availability of space. Industry experts have said that in the coming years, with the development of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Dedicated Freight Corridor, which will pass through Gurugram, the warehousing sector in and around Gurugram district is expected to prosper.

“As more and more warehouses come up, they will produce larger amounts of waste. However, the environmental impact of packaging waste thus produced needs to be considered. Just as we have policies to boost growth, we also need policies to reduce the waste footprint of industries,” said Ruchika Sethi, founder of Citizens For Clean Air, an environmental advocacy group which met MCG commissioner Amit Khatri on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Activists said that the MCG had been co-operative and understanding of their complaints, but not enough has been done to address the issue.

“A fine of Rs5,000 is meager compared to the environmental damage done by such blatant violation of norms. While bulk waste generators, such as warehouses, should be equipped to recycle their own trash, they should also be penalised more stringently,” Sethi said, adding that the MCG’s response belies a poor recognition of the direct health emergency that waste burning poses to the area’s residents, including villagers.

It was exactly these concerns that made Dharam Veer Singh follow the thick cloud of smoke he had been seeing blow over every other day for the past year-and-a-half. “On Thursday, I followed the smoke till its source and found that a private automobile company in Kherki Daula was burning heaps of styrofoam, cardboard and other plastic packaging in a ditch they had dug for exactly this purpose. It was clear that the activity was a regular practice,” he said.

Singh then decided to drive through the developing sectors and check how many such facilities he could spot.

“All along the upcoming Dwarka Expressway, I found warehouses that have been regularly disposing their waste in this manner. A large part of the waste burnt is styrofoam wrapping, which is carcinogenic,” he said.

MCG official Satar Singh Yadav, who accompanied Singh for a survey on Wednesday, said, “The warehouse manager informed us that there is no waste collection facility in the area. So, accordingly we instructed that he must either have it collected by Ecogreen Energy, or himself find a way to dispose of it safely. We told him that the facility would be sealed if we observe repeated violations.”

A written intimation to this effect was given to the warehouse.

Representatives of Ecogreen Energy could not be contacted to find out the reach of their waste collection facilities in the newer sectors despite multiple attempts. There was no response to HT’s attempts to reach out to various warehouse owners over the phone.

First Published: Jul 12, 2019 02:49 IST