Burning of garbage turns into public menace

Act of convenience:

The high rate of toxic fumes present in the City’s atmosphere make it one of the most harmful places to live in. However, a good part of the noxious fumes comes from a State-sponsored system, which condones the burning of garbage.

 Day after day, the BBMP staff who collect garbage and sweep the streets round it up in a place and burn it. Often they do it right in front of houses. It is not just leaves that are burnt but plastic and hazardous materials too. Vacant sites are generally preferred for the activity and pavements are not spared either.

All the areas in the City experience this menace. With Bangalore city having a high number of people suffering from respiratory problems, such practices are likely to aggravate them.

Matter of convenience

“Vacant sites are generally chosen by workers to burn the trash, as it is convenient to them. All kinds of trash are collected and set to fire causing a lot of problems among people who stay next to vacant sites. Irritation of the eyes and throat problems are some of the ailments that we suffer from,” said Ganesh M, a resident of Vijayanagar, whose house is located next to a vacant site.

Prasad, a resident of Vasanthnagar too voiced a similar concern.

“My wife and son are both asthmatic. During the winter season, their condition worsens. However, now with the garbage being burnt next to our house, they continue to suffer from asthma in other seasons too,” he said. Citizens’ apathy is to be blamed for the continuance of the practice. Most of the residents only ensure that trash is not burnt near their house. As long as garbage is burnt a little distance away from their house, they do not resist.

Lack of awareness

People seem to have accepted burning of trash, as they are unaware of its impact on human health. When garbage is burnt, it gives rise to several toxic compounds, including dioxins which are pollutants and can prove hazardous to human health. Director of Lakeside Hospital, Dr Paramesh said burning trash could cause a plethora of diseases.

“Pollutants that are released into the atmosphere can be damaging. The carbon particles can cause allergies and accentuate asthma. Burning of plastic is even worse, as it releases volatile organic compounds in the air. It can lead to conjunctivitis, rhinitis, bronchitis, sinusitis and in some cases can also cause pneumonia. Moreover, if smaller carbon particles enter lungs it can cause cardiovascular diseases too,” he said.

Why burn garbage?

Burning of garbage is advantageous to contractors, as it reduces the quantity of trash they have to shift to the designated landfill. Moreover, the contractor is not paid on the basis of the weight of the garbage collected.

Contractors are assigned to collect garbage from designated areas. Moreover, the payment is made on the basis of the weight of garbage that would arise from a specified area. The weight of garbage is calculated before hand, said a BBMP engineer.

Lorries or compactors carrying garbage are weighed at weighing centres before they are dumped at the landfills. However, in order to increase the weight of the debris, contractors fill the vehicles with construction debris and sand. Also, the BBMP only insists that the contractors mention the areas from where they collect garbage.

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