Odd-even sees row over landfill fires (Intro Roundup)

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New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The seventh day of the odd-even scheme on Thursday saw Delhi’s ruling AAP and the opposition BJP locked in verbal sparring over fires at different landfill sites, which the AAP claimed was being deliberately stoked to increase pollution and thereby sabotage the traffic scheme.

In response to fires at the Bhalswa and Gazipur landfill sites and at the Yamuna flood plains, the Delhi government formed a four-member committee to probe the incidents.

Pollution levels dipped marginally on Thursday which also saw the transport department challan 104 people for violations of the odd-even scheme till 2 p.m. Traffic police separately fined 189 violators of the odd-even traffic scheme through the day.

With Thursday being a working day, there was congestion in some parts of the city roads despite the road rationing scheme.

Metro officials said there was no significant change in the number of commuters using the service compared to the past two days. The second phase began on April 15 and will continue till April 30. The first phase was between January 1 and 15 this year.

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Delhi’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai alleged that efforts were being made “in a planned way” to see that the second leg of the odd-even traffic scheme does not succeed.

“Be it fires at landfill sites or the strike of auto-taxi drivers, planned efforts are being made to fail our odd-even scheme which is aimed at battling pollution,” Rai told reporters.

He said the government has constituted a four-member panel to probe incidents at Bhalswa and Gazipur landfill sites and at Yamuna flood plains.

“The committee will be headed by member secretary Delhi Pollution Control Committee Kulanand Joshi and it will submit its report in three days,” Rai said.

He said the fires at landfill sites would directly add to the pollution levels.

In the morning, Rai’s party colleague Dilip Pandey accused the BJP of trying to sabotage the odd-even scheme.

“The BJP is stooping to the lowest in Delhi to fail odd-even. MCD burning dump yards, creating health hazard. BJP pollutes Delhi,” Pandey tweeted.

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He attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue.

“Such a hatred against Delhiites is not good, Modi ji. You got the dump yards set on fire just to fail the odd-even scheme in Delhi. Don’t kill Delhi like this,” he posted in another tweet.

“You (Modi) are playing with the lives of Delhiites through MCD. It’s not only wrong, but also inhuman. Please stop this,” Pandey wrote.

On Thursday morning, fires broke out at a landfill site in north Delhi’s Bhalswa area,the Gazipur landfill site and the Yamuna flood plains opposite Rajghat.

Delhi’s Environment Minister Imran Hussain visited the Bhalswa landfill and also held a meeting with fire officials and requested them to station 15 fire tenders at the site.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and North MCD Mayor Ravinder Gupta hit back at the AAP government over the accusations.

“Their odd-even scheme has failed as people have rejected it. Hence to hide their failure they are doing politics and misleading people,” Gupta told IANS.

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“They (AAP) have gone mad and they should understand that BJP has not indulged in any such activities,” Gupta said.

He said that combustible methane gas gets formed at landfill sites and fires can occur due to its reaction with plastic material.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said that particulate matter pollution had dipped marginally on Thursday.

The PM 2.5 level declined to 67.8 on Thursday from the level of 90 a day ago, while PM 10 came down to 206 from 210, SAFAR said.

The data provided by the transport department shows that the odd-even scheme has also goaded people to go in for CNG as fuel.

It said 12,126 vehicles were converted to CNG between January 1 and April 14 this year while the number was 5,463 between September 1 and December 31 last year.



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