Even though the summer is yet to set in, the burning of dry horticulture waste and leaves has already started in many areas of Dwarka.
Despite several initiatives taken by authorities and activists to curb such malpractice, the story remains same every year. The residents say that such incidents are very common in parks, vacant plots and even by the roadside.
Recently, a fire incident was reported inside Bharat Vandana Park in Sector 20 for which even fire brigade had to be called in. Madhu Dagar, a resident of Crescent Apartments in Sector 18A who has been raising this issue with the authorities, said, “No one is bothered about it as if it is not a serious issue. The authorities are not taking any effective steps to control such fires which is extremely sad.”
The residents say this illegal burning of waste is further deteriorating the already damaged environment and adding to air pollution. The burning of leaves injects toxic smoke in the open areas creating respiratory problems for morning walkers. SK Malik, a resident of Youngster Apartments in Sector 6, shared, “I have been following up on this topic for some time now. Even people living in societies and civic bodies burn waste. Slum residents and villagers burn plant waste when it is not lifted by SDMC. This should be taken seriously.”
Experts say that such incidents are a clear violation of the Tree Act, the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000 and the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) which prohibits burning of leaves.
Though South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has banned such activities in its area, the problem continues. In 2014, then commissioner of SDMC, Dr Puneet Goel, had issued notifications banning burning of all dry leaves, horticulture waste, household waste, garbage and other waste. Zonal deputy commissioners and employees were given the responsibility to check that such things don’t happen.
But since then, nothing effective has been done. Year after year, these incidents have only been on the rise. Rejimon CK, a member of Dwarka Forum and a resident of Nav Sansad Vihar in Sector 22, said, “The whole system has completely failed in stopping such wrong practice. Last year, Sunita Narayan, chief of Centre for Science and Environment had even tweeted about the grim situation in Dwarka and also raised it in the meeting of EPCC. But nothing positive has happened after that.”
When contacted on the issue, the officials of SDMC said that they are making efforts in the direction. Clearly, those efforts aren’t enough.