Clearing the Air: Pune’s Proactive Approach to Curb Garbage Burning Menace

In response to escalating air pollution levels, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has launched a robust campaign to curb the rampant practice of garbage burning throughout the city. The move comes as civic health workers face scrutiny for contributing to environmental hazards by burning accumulated mulch from tree felling activities. To address this issue, the civic body’s 15 ward offices have collectively implemented multiple actions to combat the problem head-on.

As part of the crackdown, fines totaling Rs. 9.42 lakh have been imposed on 1,654 violators. Notably, the Nagar Road ward office stands out for its proactive measures, conducting 480 operations and collecting fines amounting to Rs. 2.52 lakh. However, the uneven enforcement of regulations is evident, with some ward offices taking limited action, such as the Kasba Vishrambaugwada ward office, which issued a nominal fine of Rs. 500. Nevertheless, ward offices in Bibvewadi, Ghole Road, and Dhole Patil Road have taken stringent action against 20 individuals each for unauthorized burning of garbage in public spaces.

The Sinhagad Road and Yerwada ward offices have conducted 252 and 172 operations, respectively, to address this illegal practice. Additionally, Wanawadi and Kondhwa ward offices have each initiated 150 operations to curb burning of garbage in public areas. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Pune is witnessing a rapid decline, primarily due to the prevalent burning of dry waste by various societies, contributing to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Responding to these environmental concerns, the PMC has established an Air Pollution Control Committee, chaired by the assistant commissioner of the ward office. This committee, consisting of deputy engineers, junior engineers, health inspectors, and contractors, is tasked with implementing measures to curb air pollution within the jurisdiction of the ward office. Simultaneously, efforts to address pollution from construction activities are also underway, with 15 ward offices taking action against 535 polluting construction sites.

However, the challenge persists as dry waste burning remains unchecked across the 15 ward offices. The situation is further compounded by an increase in defoliation, as health workers resort to burning collected foliage, worsening air quality, especially in the mornings. The issue extends beyond health workers, with various entities, including societies, government offices, educational institutions, traders, and shopkeepers, contributing to the problem. Additionally, many societies have discontinued vermicomposting projects, leading to a surge in burning dry waste.

Mangesh Dighe, Environment Officer at PMC, highlighted, “Around 1,654 actions were taken under 15 ward offices in the city. A fine of Rs. 9.42 lakh was imposed. Action has been taken against 534 construction sites causing pollution due to construction dust.”

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