Surveillance curbs waste burning in pollution hotspots of Narela, Bawana
NEW DELHI: Two earth moving machines and a dump trailer fitted to a tractor were parked near a cleaned up vacant plot of land in the heart of Bawana industrial area. Barely three months ago, the area wore a different look altogether.
When HT visited the spot in October, the plot was heaped with waste from nearby factories. Back then signatures of open waste burning was evident with smell of burning rubber and plastic filling up the air and black ashes scattered around.
Three months down the line the industrial zones of Narela and Bawana, which had hit the headlines in October 2018 for rampant dumping and burning of rubber and plastic, has undergone a sea change.
“Thousands of tonnes of rubber and plastic waste, which were supposed to be burnt in the open, have been removed. This has led to a significant drop in waste burning. Night patrolling has also started,” said Bhure Lal, chairman of Supreme Court appointed, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.
More than 90,000 tonnes of plastic and rubber waste were received by the waste-to-energy plant at Narela-bawana between October and December 2018, according to a senior official of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. While the old waste that was earlier dumped has been removed, waste generated daily is being collected and sent to the plant by the DSIIDC. Earlier, they were dumped in vacant plots and later burnt. Vigilance has been stepped up so that waste is not dumped.
“Marshals of the environment department and north civic body have been patrolling the areas at night. Waste burning used to go on particularly at night. Sign boards, urging people not to dump waste in the open have also been put up at several such vacant plots,” said BM Mishra, additional commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Senior officials from the Bawana fire station at Sector 4, which caters to the industrial area, said incidents of waste burning have dropped by more than 50% in the last three months.
“The number of fire incidents reported have, however, gone up in November and December because patrolling teams are always on the ground and they report even the small fires,” said a fire official in Bawana.
While on one hand EPCA had been building pressure by regular visits to the area, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in December 2018 imposed a penalty of Rs 25 crore on the Delhi government for failing to curb pollution in Narela – Bawana.
“At least 30 factories, which were dumping waste, were sealed and slapped with penalties of Rs 50,000 each. They were later de-sealed. Authorities have also cancelled the allotment of plots which were lying vacant. Many have already started construction so that no vacant plots remain where waste could be dumped,” said Rajeev Kumar, president of the Bawana Manufacturers Welfare Association.
But despite all these measures the two industrial zones continue to figure in the list of pollution hotspots of the national capital.
“Industries are still one of the major sources of pollution in Delhi after transport. Of the 2,000 odd industrial areas in Delhi, around 50% have shifted to piped natural gas for fuel requirements. But many industries are still using coal and often burn plastic and rubber as fuel to bring down costs. Some have already been shut down,” said a senior official of the environment department.
In October,the plot was heaped with waste and often set on fire by local people.
Measures to control waste dumping seems to have worked.