Day af­ter Di­wali, garbage burn­ing spikes in Delhi

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - Joy­deep Thakur and Ashish Mishra htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­ ■

If burst­ing crack­ers was not enough to push up pol­lu­tion lev­els on Di­wali night, en­vi­ron­men­tal in­spec­tion agen­cies found that open burn­ing of garbage shot up by at least two times the day af­ter.

In­spec­tion teams sent out by the gov­ern­ment to flag vi­o­la­tions in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion (NCR) spot­ted at least 62 in­ci­dents on Fri­day where garbage, com­pris­ing mostly of pa­pers, gift wraps and card­board boxes, were be­ing burnt in the open.

“In­ci­dents of garbage burn­ing shot up sharply on the post-Di­wali day. The num­ber of such in­ci­dents ranged be­tween 19 and 39 dur­ing the pre-Di­wali-days be­tween Novem­ber 2 and Novem­ber 5. On Novem­ber 8, at least 62 such in­ci­dents were re­ported,” said an of­fi­cial of the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board (CPCB).

Open burn­ing of garbage was banned by the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal (NGT) in 2015 and au­thor­i­ties were di­rected to im­pose a fine of ₹5,000 on vi­o­la­tors. On Fri­day, how­ever, the teams did not is­sue chal­lans, ex­cept in one case. The fires were doused on the spot, of­fi­cials said.

“Usu­ally the amount of dry waste (com­pris­ing mostly pa­per) in­creases by 10% to 15% dur­ing the fes­ti­val sea­son. The quan­tity gen­er­ally in­creases af­ter Di­wali be­cause of gift wraps and car­tons. Peo­ple also clean their houses, which adds to the garbage,” said Dalip Ram­nani, di­rec­tor of the South Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion’s (SDMC) de­part­ment of en­vi­ron­ment main­te­nance ser­vices.

An of­fi­cial from East Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (EDMC) said quan­tity of pa­per waste gen­er­ally goes up just af­ter Di­wali be­cause peo­ple clean their houses and also throw gift boxes and wrap­pers.

“This year too on the post-Di­wali day the av­er­age quan­tity of mu­nic­i­pal solid waste re­mained the same as any other day, the share of pa­per waste in­creased. We col­lect all the waste to take it to the land­fill sites, but some­times lo­cals set them ablaze. Some­times the fires are ac­ci­den­tal when some­one throws a lighted cig­a­rette or bidi. We re­main on vigil to avoid such in­ci­dents,” an EDMC of­fi­cial said.

Ex­perts also said that the dip in tem­per­a­ture could also be a pos­si­ble fac­tor as peo­ple may de­lib­er­ately start fires to keep warm.

“Apart from push­ing up the lev­els of par­tic­u­late mat­ter, burn­ing of gift wraps and car­tons also emits volatile or­ganic com­pounds and poly aro­matic hy­dro­car­bons which are car­cino­genic in na­ture,” said SN Tri­pathi, co­or­di­na­tor of the cen­tre for en­vi­ron­men­tal science and en­gi­neer­ing at IIT Kan­pur.

Ac­tivists work­ing in the field of solid waste man­age­ment said that while on one hand peo­ple should change their at­ti­tude, civic agen­cies should also have ac­tions plans and cam­paigns should be or­ga­nized par­tic­u­larly dur­ing fes­tive sea­sons.

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