Odd even scheme: Landfill fires affected air quality in Delhi, says Gopal Rai

Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday said recent incidents of fires have contributed to raising air pollution in the city.

Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday said recent incidents of fires have contributed to raising air pollution in the city.

As the second phase of the odd-even traffic plan nears its end, the minister also said there were more than twice the number of incidents of fire in Delhi between April 15 and 27 this year as compared to last year.

“The recent fire incidents in the capital have adversely affected the air quality of Delhi,” Rai said.

The second phase of the odd-even scheme, as per different reports, has not brought down the air pollution levels in the national capital. On some days during the odd-even, the air pollutant concentration also increased, according to data.

Speaking of fire incidents at the Bhalswa and Ghazipur landfill sites, Rai, referring to a probe committee report on the fires, said the fires could have been avoided though the real reason of the fires was methane gas.

However, with regard to the fire at the Yamuna flood plains, Rai expressed his apprehension that it was not an accidental case.

He stated someone could have done it purposefully. Referring to the probe committee report, he said, the fire incident at Yamuna flood plains could occur if someone started a blaze.

On Thursday (April 21), fire incidents were reported in north Delhi’s Bhalswa area, the Ghazipur landfill site and the Yamuna flood plains opposite Rajghat.

The Delhi government on the day of the incident formed a four-member committee headed by member secretary Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) Kulanand Joshi to probe the incidents.

The committee in its report stated that 2150 MTD unprocessed waste is disposed at Bhalswa landfill site. This is the main cause of generation of methane due to decomposition of organic waste.

On Bhalswa and Gazipur landfill site fire, it recommended alternative sites should be established at the earliest as both the sites are not designed as per the specifications of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) rules.

It also recommended establishing gas extraction plants to minimise the burning of garbage and stated that fire tenders should be permanently stationed at the landfill sites.

The landfill sites must be covered with inert material/green topping to avoid the instances of fire.

In connection with the fire at Yamuna Flood Plains (behind Rajghat power station), the committee recommended the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) should exercise constant vigil in the area to prevent burning of dry leaves/grass there.

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