How Gurgaon’s real estate boom became a bane for its air...
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How Gurgaon’s real estate boom became a bane for its air...

All construction activities were banned for 48 hours last Thursday, but open piles of sand and cement, demolished tarmac, broken water pipes and asbestos say otherwise.

How Gurgaon’s real estate boom became a bane for its air...

Gurgaon’s air quality plummeted drastically last week, with Wednesday recording PM2.5 at 444.34ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air) — unfortunately, the highest daily reading of PM2.5 recorded in the city for 2018 so far. As a result, all construction activities were banned for 48 hours last Thursday, but did that stop small tempos from dumping construction waste in the vicinity.

Certainly no!

City Spidey found at least three sites under and around IFFCO flyover in Sector 29, where construction and demolition (C&D) waste had been deposited. Open piles of sand and cement, demolished tarmac, broken water pipes, asbestos roofing, rusted iron bars and heaps of old bricks were found lying along the shoulders of roads, on street corners and pavements.

There’s more.

Repair work on an underground water pipeline had left a five-foot tall mound of loose soil on an open road.

The problem is found across Gurgaon — in Sushant Lok, Udyog Vihar I, Surya Vihar, Badshahpur, Atul Kataria Chowk, South City 2, Golf Course Road, Golf Course Road Extension and Ardee City — everywhere!

A resident of Sector 43, who requested anonymity, said, “The situation has turned dire. Such dumping is the work of private proprietors, who operate independently or under contract with other builders.  And it just costs Rs 500 to 800.”

He continued, “Tempos pick up waste from the construction site, and dump it all at the first empty spot they find.”

The genesis?

Gurgaon’s real estate boom in the early 2000s, assert most environmentalists. “At the time, little was known about the adverse effects of construction debris. Builders simply dumped it wherever they found vacant land — enough of which was always there. Almost two decades on, mounds of construction debris has become a ubiquitous sight in Gurgaon,” lamented environmentalist Sharad Goel.

The cost?

“Construction debris contains fine particles of silica, which enters through lungs, slips into the bloodstream and triggers a range of ailments depending on which organ receives the blood,” explained city radiologist Sanjay Mehta.

Besides respiratory disorders, cases of polycystic ovarian disorder, diabetes, brain fevers and impaired cognitive function in children are also on the rise. “These all have been linked to the chemicals found in C&D waste. Lead, asbestos and plaster — all harmful substances — are staple components of construction debris,” Mehta said.

When debris is dumped in the open, it becomes a major source of PM2.5 and PM10, contributing to air toxicity. Given the cloud of dust that engulfed the city recently, it’s management becomes the need of the hour.

Authority speak

YS Gupta, additional commissioner of MCG, said, “Every day, 200 tonnes of construction waste is being cleared up from Gurgaon. According to official estimates, about 600 tonnes of debris is produced in the city every day. Over 18,000 tonnes has been cleared since February,” he said.

Majority of the waste has been sent to Basai, at the site of a proposed C&D waste management plant. “Once the plant is functional by year-end, we will be able to properly recycle the waste it generates through construction,” Gupta explained.

Over 90 per cent of construction waste is recyclable, experts say. It can be effectively recycled in construction, thus reducing the demand for natural resources like sand.

MCG has prepared a list of 62 sites, Atul Kataria Chowk, Badshahpur and Khandsa village, and handed over the same to a private company for cleaning up the rubble. It has hired by the MCG in February 2018.

The MCG is also planning to introduce mobile C&D waste management units at sensitive locations to save on transportation costs.

The matter has already been legislated upon –  the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, issued by the Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change, in 2016 — what’s required is step-by-step implementation.