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Mathura/Vrindavan, 2014.11.24 (VT): The garbage burning is shocking the twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. Since a certain time, the Municipality has found a hazardous way of disposing of garbage. It has been burning waste to reduce its quantity. This is happening from last two months in the Solid Waste Management Plant in Mathura. The smell of burning and the fire panicked the residents living nearby. The fire brigade was called and the fire was put out. The Municipality has been burning garbage since the Mathura waste processing company, which was given the contract for door to door garbage collection and making organic manure from the waste, stopped its activity due to non-payment. Mountains of garbage has been piling up in the Trans-Yamuna and Bhuteshwar localities. Since no processing unit is functioning, the municipal workers and the non-integrated safai karmis find burning the easiest way to dispose of the garbage. On this occasion, the smell of plastic and rubber burning forced people out of their houses. The residents who live close to the dumping station started calling the police and administrative officials. The Additional District Magristrate (Law and Order0 Shri Surendra Kumar Sharma had to call the fire brigade to control the fire. The ADM was heard asking for clarification on the situation from the Executive Officer K.P. Singh. This was the third time that the municipality had been called on to extinguish garbage fires in Bhuteshwar. Garbage burning releases large amount of trace gases such as nitrogen oxides (Nox), CO, methane (CH4), non methane hydrocarbon (NMHCs), carbon dioxide (CO2) and particulate matter. The situation in Vrindavan is worse than in Mathura as there is no longer any landfill site available. Now garbage is being dumped on the road close to the erstwhile landfill site, which has been given to the Mandi Samiti to be developed as a wholesale market. There used to be deep trenches in the landfill site which are no longer available anymore, and the garbage which is being dumped on the road, is being burnt by the municipal workers or rag pickers and scavengers (kabadawallahs) as they look for metal and glass. The problem is particularly acute for residents of Kailash Nagar Colony, which adjoins the area where garbage is now being dumped. Smoke emitted from the garbage fires reaches the colony and fills people’s homes. Bhagwat preacher Shri Damodar Shashtri, who is a resident of the Kailash Nagar colony, complained that he finds it difficult to breathe when the wind blows towards the colony with smoke from the landfill site. “It has become impossible to get the fresh air even in the morning when we go for the morning walk. The air is full of smoky contents which we are forced to breathe,” he said. Shri Nagendra Kaushik, a teacher living in Kailash Nagar, said that the residents of the colony burn their garbage too, as no alternative has been provided by the Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority for garbage disposal. No cleaning staff has been recruited to clean the colony. On an earlier occasion when the MVDA gave out a tender for cleaning, garbage bins were placed in the colony. But when the bins were full, they would be set on fire by the cleaners. The rest of Vrindavan Municipality is not free from this problem either. Garbage burning is rampant there also. The problem is getting more serious with each passing day as the number of satellite dumping stations has been reduced due to urban growth. Several garbage bins can be seen on the road, but since the trash accumulated in them doesn’t get collected at regular intervals, people living around them set them on fire. Sometimes municipal workers also set them on fire to avoid the hassle of transporting the refuse to a dumping site. Environment and health conscious people say that residents are being affected by the smoke, which causes blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases to be on the rise. Rural Vraja is also affected by bio-mass burning. Villagers set their fields on fire after each crop, increasing the smog in the region.