While Dwarka recently observed World Environment Day and several programmes were held across the city to protect the environment, ironically, there is one activity happening in the city which is detrimental to the surroundings. It is the burning of leaves and garbage in the city.
It is a regular practice and, according to residents, is carried out either by civic agencies or other people. The emission of toxic gasses, like Carbon monoxide and Carbon dioxide, pollutes the air. Moreover, trees are also being burnt. The damage to the ecological balance is happening on multiple fronts in Dwarka. It is sometimes visible in the form of burnt trees, and sometimes it is present as a health hazard in the form toxic air that is inhaled.
Photo shows garbage being burnt at the garbage dumping spot in Sector 2.
It‘s not the case that there are no legal implications of these activities. Experts say they violate the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, and the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000. Moreover, the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) prohibits the burning of leaves. Despite the laws in place, the ground reality tells a different story.
Burning in open areas near parks makes the air toxic with smoke and for morning walkers, it defeats the very purpose for which they step out. Usha Shively, president of Rajasthan Society, Sector 4, said, “Dry leaves and horticultural waste is burnt by DDA and the corporation staff along road sides, near parks and also inside them. When we raise these issues with DDA or SDMC officials, they say that it is done by miscreants. But, these activities do not seem to be the job of some miscreant. It leads to the death of microorganisms present in the soil and does long term damage to the fertility of the soil. At the same time, it leads to air pollution. In the long run, it can damage the whole ecological system on a large scale unless it is checked completely.”
Photo shows burnt thermocol plates on the side of a road in Dwarka.
According to SK Malik, a resident of Youngster Apartments, Sector 6, “Garden waste is burnt by the societies and DDA gardeners usually near DDA parks. Municipal waste (garbage) is burnt on the road sides by corporation’s sweepers whereas garbage and plant waste is burnt by slum dwellers and villagers when it is not lifted by SDMC. On the occasion of bhandara (a religious festival), waste is not collected by organisers and so is burnt by the sweepers and other people. I have been observing such activities on a regular basis in Dwarka. The issue needs to be taken seriously by both the community and the civic authorities.”
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation has banned such activities in its area in a bid to curb pollution. In 2014, Dr Puneet Goel, the then commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, issued a notification banning burning of all dry leaves, horticultural waste, household waste and garbage. To make the law more effective, zonal deputy commissioners and other employees were made part of the mechanism to curb the activity.
Shyam Sharma, the mayor of SDMC, said, “We are strict on any such practice of burning waste anywhere in the area. Concerned officials will be asked to check the case in Dwarka and find out who is responsible. Action will be taken against them. I also appeal to the residents of Dwarka to inform me about such activities and I will take action.”
A gurad tries to extinguish the fire in front of society in Sector 6.