Delhi: Dwarka chokes as garbage burning releases toxic gases

New Delhi, Oct 21: Residents of Dwarka sub-city on Saturday took out a protest march as open burning of garbage continued, spewing toxic fumes and worsening the air quality to "severe-plus or emergency".

Dwarka fell behind Anand Vihar area in east Delhi in terms of air pollution after garbage was found burning at different places a day after Dussehra.

"The garbage is being burned across several areas of Dwarka, specially sectors 7, 8, 12 and 10. In last 15 days, there have been over 10 cases of garbage burning at an unauthorised dhalao or dumping area in front of Brahma Apartments of sector-7. We had no option but to take to the streets," V Selvarajan, a resident and member of NGO Green Circle told IANS.

This is despite a blanket ban on burning of garbage across Delhi.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Dwarka sector-8 at 405 was marked severe, while the AQI of Delhi was 326, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Anand Vihar, the second-most polluted area, had a very poor air quality with a 371 AQI.

The major pollutants PM2.5 and PM10, the particles with a diameter less than 2.5 mm and 10 mm respectively, were over nine times the international safe limits in Dwarka sub-city.

At 5 pm, The PM2.5 concentration was 239 units and the PM10 was 521 units in Dwarka, while the average of the same across 36 areas in Delhi was 185 units (PM2.5) and 340 units (PM10). The permissible limits for PM2.5 is 60 units nationally, and 25 units as per international standards.

The pollution levels across the 48 units of National Capital Region (NCR) were 181 units (PM2.5) and 388 units (PM10).

"On paper, one can't burn the garbage. However, its implementation has been a problem," said Polash Mukherjee, a researcher at the Centre for Science and Environment, and a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).

Selvarajan said that the residents had reached out to the NGT, Union Environment Ministry, CPCB, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), but no action was taken.

When contacted, SDMC officials said that they were unaware of any garbage burning. 

IANS