The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) may be making all efforts to improve its ranking in the Swachh Survekshan, still the civic authority has not been able to check burning of garbage across the city.
According to information accessed by The Indian Express under RTI on fires in the city in 2018, over 25 per cent of fires dealt with by the PMC’s fire department relates to burning of garbage. “It’s a fact that the department has to tackle more incidents of burning of garbage than any other types of fires. However, the department’s responsibility is to respond to calls and control fires,” said Prashant Ranpise, Chief Fire Officer, PMC.
According to the information, the fire department received 1,983 calls about fires in 2018. The maximum, 253, were reported in March followed by 225 in April while the least, 87, were reported in July during the monsoon. Of the 1,983 complaints, the maximum – 510 – related to burning of garbage.
Ranpise said whenever the department receives a call about a fire, irrespective of going into the details, their primary responsibility is to respond to the call and put out the fire. “The maximum number of fires due to burning of garbage takes place during January-May and October-December. It’s a major cause of fire in the city,” he said.
At a few locations, waste is dumped and burnt openly but the PMC seem to turn a blind eye to it. These open plots are located near Sinhagad College in Vadgaon Budhruk, Keshavnagar in Mundhwa, Apsara Chowk in Gultekdi, Baner service road in Baner, old garbage depot land in Kothrud, near Sanjivani Hospital in Erandwane, near HSBC tower in Kalyani nagar, near Deccan College in Yerawada, near Dharmavatnagar in Kondhwa Budhruk, near all crematoriums and burial grounds across the city and the areas alongside canals passing through the city.
Incidentally, only major fires related to burning of garbage are reported to the fire department. The small ones are not even reported. Residents and housing societies have been complaining about burning of garbage because of the health problems they cause, but the civic authorities are yet to initiate any action.
Rohan Patil, a resident of Vadgaon Budhruk, said burning of garbage on the open plot near the Sinhagad College next to the Vadgaon water works had been going on for long and, despite complaints from residents, nothing has been done to stop it. “Hazardous fumes and gases released by burning of garbage pose a serious health hazard,” he said.
The National Society for Clean Cities (NSCC) too has taken up the issue with the civic body but the authorities have been merely giving assurances. The PMC, under the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, imposes a fine of Rs 200 for burning of garbage, which the state government recently increased to Rs 500. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in 2016 put a nationwide ban on open burning of garbage, citing it as a major source of air pollution.
According to civic officials, the PMC takes action against those burning garbage in its limits but often are unable to locate the culprit. “We will intensify action against those burning garbage in the city,” said an official.