Most of pollution-related complaints on Delhi app since Oct about illegal garbage dumping
Over 50% of pollution-related complaints in Delhi since October related to illegal garbage dumping that residents reported on the Green Delhi app, according to the government data.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai inaugurated the app in October for people to report air pollution-related violations to fight peak winter pollution. It received 11,946 complaints till November 30. Of these, 5,779 involved illegal dumping of garbage. The remaining complaints related to the dumping of construction and demolition waste on roadsides, in the Yamuna floodplains, and on public lands. There were 1,627 such complaints (13%). As many as 1,598 complaints pertained to potholes on roads (13%) followed by 1,059 road dust emissions (9%). At least 657 complaints related to dust suspension from construction and demolition activities.
Burning of biomass, dry leaves, solid and plastic waste, causing fumes, together accounted for 820 complaints. Besides, 272 complaints pertained to air and noise pollution caused by sources other than industries while 134 related to polluting fumes from industrial units.
“Of the complaints, 10,067 have been resolved and responded to. The grievance redressal rate is around 85%. The response time to address a complaint is from a minimum of two hours to a maximum of seven days. In case of complaints of burning or bigger fires, they can be addressed within a few hours. However, in case of issues such as potholes, it may take around a week…,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.
The official said the dumping of garbage on roadsides and in vacant plots ultimately set on fire accounted for the bulk of complaints. “To address the issue as well as discuss the situation, we have called a meeting of all agencies including municipal corporations and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Monday.”
Twenty-one agencies, including Delhi government departments, three municipal corporations and the DDA, have been coordinating to address air pollution.
The Central Pollution Control Board on Friday wrote to the Delhi government asking it to take swift action on pollution-related complaints. It said while stubble burning is almost over, the major sources of pollution are open dumping and burning of waste, construction/demolition activity, unpaved roads, and pits, and re-suspension of road dust.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said that while there is greater awareness among citizens now and having a platform to report does help, the government has to find ways to increase people’s participation as well to address larger issues such as these. Besides, an aggressive strategy and systemic changes are required to deal with issues such as effective management of solid waste.
“Involvement of people at the ground level is crucial to bring about change. We have been raising it time and again that surveillance on ground and effective monitoring is required across Delhi-NCR to reduce local emissions. Without systemic changes being brought in, the problems of handling waste and garbage burning cannot be addressed. The municipal corporations have to find effective strategies of dealing with the problem, which is very large-scale. Also, the implementation of the same has to be round the year and not just during winter when the problem is at its peak. ,” she said.
Resident welfare associations (RWAs) across the city said that polluting activities such as waste dumping and burning, dust from construction activities etc are observed all the year around but government agencies step up monitoring and take action only during the winter when pollution is already high. Also, they said that the government must involve RWAs, which work at the ground level, to address such issues.
Atul Goyal, president, United Residents Joint Action (URJA), an umbrella body of 2500 RWAs across the city, said, “The app is a good platform for citizens to report such complaints. However, it has to be seen if the rate of redressal of complaints is the same throughout the year as it is during winter. The government must rope in RWAs for better monitoring of civic issues such as garbage dumping so that it can become a behavioural change as well.”