Pune Faces Rising Concerns Over Increased Garbage Burning and Poor Air Quality

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Pune, 27th December 2023: The air quality index (AQI) in Pune has dipped to the “poor” category this winter, raising concerns among citizens. The drop in minimum temperatures over the past few days is identified as a contributing factor to this decline, marking the first time this winter season that Pune’s AQI has fallen to the “poor” level.

A significant worry accompanying this decline in air quality is the surge in incidents of open garbage burning during December. The city has reported 458 cases of garbage burning, a notable increase from 151 cases in November. On Monday, the AQI in Shivajinagar was categorized as “very poor.”

Experts point to various factors, including burning garbage, construction dust, and vehicular emissions, contributing to the worsening AQI across the city. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has recorded and fined 458 instances of garbage burning this month, collecting Rs 2.5 lakh from offenders. Additionally, unauthorized dumping cases have risen to 6,709 in December, up from 4,299 in November.

An official from PMC’s solid waste department explained that the cold conditions have led security guards and construction workers to resort to burning waste material, such as tires, to combat the chill. Stricter vigilance and action against offenders have also contributed to the increased number of cases registered this month.

Sandip Kadam, head of the solid waste department, affirmed, “We will continue to take strict action against the offenders, mainly security guards at housing societies, business complexes, and construction sites.”

A pollution expert highlighted the dangers of incomplete garbage combustion, releasing toxic pollutants that remain at ground level, negatively impacting air quality. The expert noted that if garbage contains plastic with chlorine content, it releases carcinogenic substances such as dioxin and furan, leading to respiratory difficulties.

Residents in areas like Hingane, Dhayari, Lohegaon, and Hadapsar have been diligent in reporting the escalating instances of garbage burning. Concerned citizens have observed waste being burned in multiple locations, with some cases involving corporation staffers burning waste due to insufficient garbage collection vans.

To address the growing problem, the civic body plans to introduce four mobile vans within a week. These vans will focus on monitoring and preventing open garbage burning on the outskirts and areas near highways. Operating from 6 am to midnight daily, the vans will make announcements against such actions to raise awareness and curb the rising trend.