With the long, dry spell, trees across the city stand bare while leaves seem to carpet the roads. But efforts to curb burning of leaf litter seems to have gone up in smoke. In many places, the dry leaves are being set on fire. Residents in many parts of the city have been complaining about the deteriorating air quality resulting from the burning of leaves. The control room of the Fire and Emergency Services has registered a spurt in the number of complaints of leaf litter being set on fire.
According to a resident of Malleshpalya, soot was seen on the terrace and balconies of many houses. This is perhaps the soot carried by the wind from the main road, where garbage is routinely set on fire.
An engineer, who commutes every day from K.R. Puram to Whitefield, said that she had flagged the BBMP officials several instances about leaf litter being set on fire, but to no avail. Shilpa Narayan, an eco warrior from Vijinapura, convinced the garbage contractor of the ward to load the leaf litter and dump it in a vacant site where it could be composted. Stressing on the need for decentralised destination for all leaf waste at either the ward or zonal level, she said this was crucial only during the three summer months when trees shed their leaves. “The manure / compost can be used in nurseries maintained by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Forest Department,” she said and added that pourakarmikas must be discouraged from burning leaf litter. She also suggested that pourakarmikas be encouraged to inform the jurisdictional health inspector of residents or miscreants setting leaf litter on fire, so that penalty may be levied on them.
The BBMP had issued an advisory a few years ago on managing leaf litter. According to the advisory, pourakarmikas had been directed to collect dry leaves and compost them in the nearest open ground / park while bulk generators were instructed to compost it in their own premises. The compost would be made available free of cost to interested citizens and farmers, it said. BBMP’s Special Commissioner (Solid Waste Management) D. Randeep said the civic body had taken cognisance of the issue and admitted that the number of complaints had increased over the past few weeks. He said specific directions to curb the same would be issued in a couple of days.
Mr. Randeep said that the BBMP would also install leaf / lane composters, provided the local residents’ association were ready to take ownership. That apart, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) would soon constitute a committee to certify various composting technologies, which will help citizens ascertain which technology is best suited for lane composting and for apartment composting. The civic body had already given one round of training to pourakarmikas and junior health inspectors. He said that with an increase in leaf litter, some wards had sought extra compactors for the same.