Day after Diwali, garbage burning spikes in Delhi
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.