Open Garbage Burning: A Major Public Health Crisis In Bangalore
A city that was once known to have ‘natural air-conditioning’ is now burning in the heat of rising temperatures. And nowhere is the heat felt more than by a pile of burning garbage.
Over the past few years, we have seen Bangalore’s air pollution increasing. Particulate matter on Bangalore’s busy roads is 6 times the limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation.
Garbage burning greatly contributes to existing urban air pollution which is known to reduce the lives of Indians by over 3 years. The cocktail of toxins released by garbage burning is much more harmful than toxins found in industrial areas. Here are some examples:
- Acids and other toxins emitted can increase the breathing difficulty among many, in turn increasing heart risks.
- Heavy metals such as mercury are highly toxic, and can accumulate in the body, causing organ failure and death. Lower levels can cause respiratory/ intestinal problems, issues with growth and development in children.
- Polyvinyl chloride is a material found in children’s toys and a variety of other household products. It forms dioxins when burned, which are very toxic. Dioxins can cause growth defects and cancer in children.
- Children are more vulnerable to the ill-effects of garbage burning in comparison to adults. According to doctors, children’s lungs are in the development stage and smaller in size and therefore more prone to breathing problems and asthma. Constant exposure to the smoke leads to asthma being carried on to adulthood. This is worse when plastic is burnt as it increases the number of carcinogens.
The burning of garbage represents a whole systems failure.
It happens when there’s overconsumption, littering, not enough waste segregation, too few sorting facilities, and more.
The only kind of waste that gets burnt is the mixed waste. This is the dirty unsegregated waste that has been thrown on the ground or collected in plastic bags from houses. So mixed waste has no destination other than dumping.
It’s not just proactive citizens that can stop the burning of garbage, the BBMP must also ensure that under no circumstances is garbage burnt. The BBMP must ensure that offenders are held accountable for the act of burning. They must be punished. BBMP must also make sure that efficient and timely door-to-door collection is offered to every resident. While Bangalore still has a long way to go, the BBMP has shown seriousness in addressing this issue. The recent plastic ban is just one powerful example of the many improvements to Bangalore’s waste management system that have been undertaken.
Campaigners at Jhatkaa.org met with the BBMP Joint Commissioner Mr. Sarfaraz Khan last week. He told us that the BBMP is against garbage burning, but some contractors are still doing so. He also said he is going to penalise contractors whenever a report is sent on the WhatsApp number 7676-022-555.
What you as a citizen can do
Jhatkaa.org in collaboration with The Logical Indian is running #BangaloreIsBurning campaign to end open garbage burning in Bangalore.
We have created an online map where each of the violations reported so far can be seen. It is important for the people of Bangalore to understand how widespread the issue is.
So now, whenever you see garbage burning, click a photo on your phone and send it to us on WhatsApp on 7676-022-555. We will be following up with the Joint Commissioner to ensure he keeps his word.
You can also show your support to the campaign by giving a missed call on 9590-46-1100, it will just take a minute but will go a long way in terms of impact or you can sign the petition here.
Garbage burning should not be tolerated at any cost. It is toxic and unnecessary. We already have 4 Indian cities on the list of 10 most polluted cities in the world. Let’s not add Bangalore to that list.
Written By Divya Narayanan