Fire at Delhi's biggest landfill heightens concerns of pollution in choked city

The 40 acre-wide trash mountain, which receives about 2,700 tonnes of garbage per day, is the largest landfill of the national capital.

Fire at Delhi's biggest landfill heightens concerns of pollution in choked city
Pic Courtesy: ANI

NEW DELHI: A fire broke out on Saturday at the city's Bhalswa landfill site, raising concerns among Delhiites who are already reeling under severe air pollution.

The 40 acre-wide trash mountain, which receives about 2,700 tonnes of garbage per day, is the largest landfill of the national capital. It caters to approximately 50 per cent population of Delhi, including Jahangirpuri, Civil Lines, Kirti Nagar, Model Town and even old Delhi's Chandni Chowk.

The smog in the city has been caused by several conditions. These include the pollutants that come from Punjab that is the result of stubble burning and the others from eastern Uttar Pradesh that come through moisture in the air. The pollutants collide at higher altitudes and this, minus ground wind level, has resulted in the smog-like situation in the national capital.

Air quality in Delhi-NCR has been at the season's worst for the last couple of days as a combined effect of smoke from stubble burning and moisture turned the region into a 'gas chamber' leaving people gasping.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday blamed stubble burning for smog in the national capital and said that a solution can be found if everyone comes together.

Amid concerns over alarming pollution levels in Delhi-NCR region, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday rapped the Delhi government and said that no construction activity will be carried out on structured until further orders, other than those that don't need any construction material till next hearing.

The NGT passed the directions while hearing the matter of air pollution and stubble burning.

Stating that the labours would be paid daily wages and would not be affected by orders, the Tribunal added, "All industrial activity in NCR which is releasing emissions will also not carry on its activities till the next date of hearing.

The Tribunal also said that there should be a sprinkling of water wherever ambient air quality of PM10 is found to be in excess of 600. "Helicopters or fire departments could carry out a sprinkling of water."

The Aam Aadmi Party government announced to run during Monday-Friday its road rationing scheme odd-even as an emergency measure under a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) given by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

But EPCA chairman Bhure Lal said there will not be much effect through the scheme in which odd and even numbered private vehicles ply on alternate days to encourage public transport use.

"The government does not have enough number of buses to start the scheme, and with exemptions on two-wheelers, it will not have much effect," he said.

Lal said the announcement of the scheme was not suggested at present, as smog is expected to clear by November 13. "The government needs at least 2,000 (more) buses to start the third round of odd-even. The announcement was done without any consultation with EPCA. It will create unnecessary panic among the public at large."

(With DNA inputs)