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Delhi may serve tandoori chicken minus tandoor as municipal corporation considers ban


If tandoori chicken or barbecued kebabs are a part of your staple outdoor meal, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) is likely to spoil your broth. To support such a move, the officials read out an IIT Kanpur ‘source apportionment’ study last year that said particulate matter (PM) pollution from tandoors was akin to mass burning in landfills and leaf burning, both of which are banned.

South Delhi has a sizeable number of the city’s 9,000 hotels and restaurants which use coal ovens and their business may go up in smoke if the proposed move comes into effect.

“Saving your lungs is more important than tickling your taste-buds,” said an officer in SDMC health department.

“We have actually been thinking about it since monsoon when dengue and chikungunya broke out. These eateries are a source of unnecessary filth as plates, spoons, etc., are thrown anywhere, and attract stray dogs and cats. Now, with various think-tanks stating this as one of the major sources of air pollution in the city, we could close the ovens. We will take public opinion before we do that,” the official said.

Other SDMC officers too admitted that the department was seriously considering the option of closing the ovens, at least in winters.

However, a few officers said this could be a desperate measure based on a lone study as the city and central governments have been grappling with answers to lay before the Supreme Court on air pollution-reducing measures.
“The open clay ovens may just prove to be the fall guy,” one official differing with the proposed move said. According to the IIT (K) study, “The PM emission in the form of fly-ash from this source is large and contributes to air pollution. It is proposed that all restaurants of sitting capacity more than 10 should not use coal and shift to electric or gas-based appliances.”

The study was commissioned by the Delhi government in 2012 and it brought out the report after analysing several contributory sources of Delhi’s hazardous air – vehicles, power plants, industries, traffic, local power generation, hotels and open burning of municipal solid waste (MSW). “The details of the hotels and restaurants were obtained from the DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Committee) and related websites.

During the field survey, it was observed that hotels, restaurants, etc use coal as fuel in tandoors. The average consumption of coal in tandoor based on survey was 30 kg/day,” the study said
However, the study assumed that 25 per cent of total hotels were using tandoors or coal-based fuel to cook meals. “The total number of hotel and restaurant enterprise was 36,099 (Delhi Statistical Hand Book, 2014). We assume that 25 per cent of these enterprises use tandoor for food preparation,” the study said.

According to the report, coal and fly-ash are the largest contributors to PM 10 (particulate matter less than 10 micron in diameter) and PM 2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 micron in diameter) in the summers. Of the 37,171 kg/day and 18,369 kg/day of PM 10 and PM 2.5, the report shows 3,493 kg/day and 1,758 kg/day of the same particulate matter is from hotel and restaurant emissions. “A careful examination shows that about 67 per cent reduction of PM10 (2,142 kg/day) and PM2.5 (1,083 kg/day) emission from this source can be achieved by stopping uses of coal. It may be seen that coal and fly-ash are the largest contributing sources in summer and this action is expected to reduce ambient air concentration by 2.7 ìg/m3 and 2.9 ìg/m3 in PM10 and PM2.5 respectively,” the report said.

Source: India Today