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Pollution board pitches warning against burning waste

By EMN Updated: Sep 14, 2013 12:06 am

Dimapur, September 13

Burning waste has its advantages: It clears the place and makes it look cleaner. But what about the people who are exposed to the smoke and the environmental consequences burning waste in public places can have? And what do municipal laws say about burning waste? The answer to both the questions is an utter ‘No’, according to the Nagaland Pollution Control Board. When one talks of air pollution, the pollution control agency stated in a public awareness handout, the first thing that comes to mind is something similar to a chimney spewing thick black smoke into the atmosphere.
“But wait; there are many more sources of air pollution around us. In our condition one of the most visible source is the burning of wastes in the community bins or in street corners. There are some community bins and street corners that are burnt regularly and the Nagaland Pollution Control Board has been receiving complaints in this regard,” the agency said in the handout received here today.
“Now, what’s so great about waste burning?” the pollution control board queried It reduces waste and gives the place a cleaner look. But, what about those people who are living nearby such active volcanic bins where regular burning of municipal wastes take place?”
The composition and magnitude of municipal waste has changed with pattern of consumption, the board noted.
“Today the wastes contain a large percentage of plastic and rubber besides others. These (plastic and rubber) wastes when burnt produces furans, dioxins etc in the environment that are totally invisible and their health effects are not immediate. But the longer you continue to expose yourself, the more poisons accumulate in your body,” the pollution-control agency stated.
When a citizen inhales smoke from burning municipal wastes, it gives him nausea followed by slight migraine i.e. headache. “Over time it can increase the risk of developing tumours, cancer, heart diseases, learning disorders, infertility, impairment of the immune system, asthma, sinusitis and other diseases,” the board said.
“If your neighbour’s regular habitual burning of waste is causing health concerns to you and your family, inform him/her of the inconveniences caused to you and the dangerous effects of burning wastes vis-a-vis inhaling smoke from burning municipal wastes.”
However, the health implications of burning waste in public is not limited only to health effects or environmental concerns – burning waste in public is a punishable offense. The Nagaland Pollution Control Board stated that the law prohibits burning of municipal wastes as stated under the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules of 2000 Schedule II Sl. No.1 (viii).
“In case you are the culprit who burns wastes regularly without caring for your neighbours, please give up the habit and think of your neighbours,” the board advised in the handout.
Safer Alternatives to Burning Waste
Following the 3 ‘Rs’ (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) principle will help citizens protect their health and environment.
Citizens are advised to avoid disposable items in the first place. Buy products in bulk instead of individually wrapped or single-serving sizes, the board says. “Buy durable products and products that can be recharged, repaired, or refilled.” In other words, buy products that are easily bio-degradable and eco-friendly.
Further, citizens can donate items which they do not need. These may include items such as clothing, furniture, books, magazines and toys. They may be given to relatives, friends or charities. Likewise, they can mend and repair rather than discard or replace, the pollution control board advises citizens.
The board also advises citizens to separate recyclable items from garbage and sell the former to the kabariwallas (scrap dealers) for recycling. In Nagaland, any item that cannot be used – both recyclable and unrecyclable items – are discarded are summarily disposed off. The board advises against this to mitigate the health and environmental impacts uninformed waste disposal methods can have.
Further, the board has advised citizens to install a backyard compost bin for composting kitchen and yard waste. Kitchen and organic waste can be compost and later be used in several ways. This is an econ-friendly practice.
Citizens are also asked to dispose off their garbage into the community bins or waste area marked by the municipal authorities in concern for waste collection instead of littering or throwing them where they should not be thrown.

By EMN Updated: Sep 14, 2013 12:06:49 am