Gurugram: Citizens for Clean Air, a Gurugram group, on Thursday, wrote a letter to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar seeking his intervention to mitigate the adverse impact of rising air pollution on public health and environment in the city.
Ruchika Sethi Takkar, the founder of the group, said, "We have sought his urgent attention towards the need to combat the year-round air pollution which is presently in the poor category. We have reminded him about the government's responsibility to protect the right of citizens to clean air.”
Apart from strict implementation of Supreme Court, National Green Tribunal's (NGT) directives and municipal laws, in particular, the SWM rules 2016, she said the government should come forward to create awareness in the general public about pollution and its impact on their health. This, she pointed out goes a long way in ensuring that we do not have public health emergency situations.
Besides, the Citizens for Clean Air, through the letter, raised concern over the pathetic state of sanitation due to unauthorised garbage dumping, rampant burning, dust-generating roads, dust from construction activity etc.
"We continue to suffer on account of these violations on a daily basis while the administration provides an only piecemeal solution to our civic problems. The city lacks in a proper solid waste collection, segregation and disposal management system despite the fact that there are existing GOI rules for solid waste, construction and demolition (C&D) waste, e-waste etc." She added.
They solicited the support of the CM, councilors and local leaders to the awareness campaign on public health and implementation of the measures to achieve basic healthy living standards.
In this context, the group took the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) to task for its failure to manage the city's waste and the lack of implementation of SWM Rules 2016 due to which large quantities of municipal, industrial and horticulture waste is dumped and burnt in the open.
"The practice of dumping and burning on a daily basis, almost throughout the year, is continually adding to the already high levels of air pollution. It's a matter of serious public health concern."
They said they have been reporting to the MCG, State Pollution Control Board and Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) about the problems of mixed waste collection, its dumping at several empty plots and regular burning of garbage near residential areas across the sectors of the city.
They pointed out that these practises have serious consequences on health of the citizens, particularly children, elderly, pregnant women, causing asthma, lung infection, defective births etc.
Ecogreen has not succeeded in the past two years in even management of segregated waste and compacting mixed waste at its transfer stations. Neither its wet waste composting units at ward level nor any mechanism or operational expertise for single-stream waste management made any difference to the city, they pointed out.
"If the concessionaire incinerates mixed municipal solid waste in the proposed WTE plant at Bhandwari releases harmful compounds and pollutants mixed municipal waste, it can result in another environmental disaster adding to the city's health woes."
They demanded strict measures and penalties for any violation and underscored the importance of waste segregation at source. They also shared a charter of citizens' demands which lays a roadmap to realise a clean environment.
They demanded zero tolerance to garbage burning and smoke-producing activities, open dumping, mixed waste collection and disposal, ban on single-use plastic bags and non-woven bags, installation of air quality monitors etc.
It's to be recalled here that thousands of children, parents, senior citizens, corporate executives, doctors, RWA representatives had assembled on Sunday at Leisure Valley Park to voice their concern and draw the attention of the administration to the health emergency due to persistently high levels of air pollution.