The waste thrown on tetrapods and (Left) Garbage being burnt on the Princess Street side of the flyover on Marine Drive

When confronted by residents, workers blame it on drug addicts; Environmentalists warn of serious consequences; BMC authorities promise to enquire into matter

The BMC seems to be adopting an easy method of dealing with the dry waste collected from housing societies on Marine Drive.

The Marine Drive residents have alleged that civic workers have been burning dry waste on roads every morning for the past fortnight.

This default of the civic body’s Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 by its own workers comes at a time when the BMC as a part of its clampdown efforts on housing societies has refused to collect wet waste (since October 2) and is preparing to prosecute societies for not setting up composting units. As a result of the civic body’s refusal to pick wet waste, many societies across the city were faced with the prospect of having unsightly heaps of garbage.

Burning the dry waste is an illegal method of dealing with it, say Marine Drive residents.

In December 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered a nationwide ban on the open burning of garbage with penalty of up to Rs 25,000, citing it as a major source of air pollution. Moreover, the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016 have prohibited burning of garbage on landfill areas, public spaces or any other sites.

Nikhil Banker, a resident of Marine Drive, said he has witnessed BMC workers burning garbage and the entire promenade being covered in a cloud of smoke.

“On the Princess Street side of the flyover on Marine Drive, there is regular garbage burning by BMC workers. But when we confronted them, they gave an excuse that it was being done by drug addicts. We had complained to the mukadam, but we see it being repeated every day for the past 15 days,” Banker said.

Banker said the BMC was taking an easy way out by not transporting the waste to the dumping ground.

“The waste is thrown on tetrapods and burnt there was well. BMC will give an excuse that the sweepers are on contract,” said Banker.

Ashok Gupta, another resident on Marine Drive, said the area near the promenade is covered with a cloud of smoke whenever he goes for his morning walks.

“It feels like the Haryana smoke and the smoke emanates from the tetrapods where the waste is burnt,” said Gupta.

Ashok Rao, president of the Federation of Churchgate Residents, has also seen BMC workers burning garbage in bins.

Environmentalists opine that this illegal practice on Marine Drive should stop otherwise it will lead to health problems.

“It is winter now and the air quality is getting bad. The solid waste contains all kinds of waste, including plastic, thermocol and paper. If you burn plastic at low temperatures, you would get a lot of dioxins which are highly carcinogenic and worsen the quality of air. Even minute quantities of dioxins are carcinogenic. The smoke adds to the suspended particulate matter. Why should the BMC be exempted from prosecution? The municipal commissioner too has to follow the rules,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust.

Environmentalist Sumaira Abdulali, said, “We all know that last year when Deonar was burning it exceeded even Delhi in terms of air pollution. It shows the level of sincerity and focus on this issue.”

Jivak Ghegadmal, assistant commissioner, C ward, when contacted said that he will enquire in two days to find out if the garbage burning is done by BMC workers.

“I’ll send a person and keep a watch on it to check if the BMC labourers are doing it,” he said.

It is winter now and the air quality is getting bad. If you burn plastic at low temperatures, you would get a lot of dioxins which are highly carcinogenic

– Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust

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