Severe air pollution and smog have hit Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai, where people on Monday observed the Bogi tradition in which old or discarded materials are burnt. The lanes were dotted with bonfires, and a thick blanket of smog engulfed the city. Plastic materials and polythene bags were being burnt in residential areas. Many, including cricketer Ravi Shankar Ashwin, have complained of having breathing problem.
"Massive smog in Chennai this morning owing to Bhogi burning, entire nose getting blocked and black discharges later in the day. I am not sure if it's worth spoiling the planet further in the name of traditions. There has to be a way to educate everyone and make them understand," he tweeted.
Massive smog in Chennai this morning owing to Bhogi burning, entire nose getting blocked and black discharges later in the day. I am not sure if it's worth spoiling the planet further in the name of traditions. There has to be a way to educate everyone and make them understand????— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) January 14, 2020
The officials of the city's Pollution Control Board are monitoring the situation.
Bogi, an age-old tradition, observed a day before the Pongal festival, signifies destruction of filth and ushering in the new Tamil month of Thai.
"We usher in the Tamil month of Thai by burning old material. This is our tradition. None burns tyres now a days. We only burn sack and mats. There is no problem," Anand Babu, a local told NDTV.
However, the Chennai corporation shared pictures of its workers holding tyres seized from those who reportedly had plans to burn them.
Rajeswari, a local, who burnt clothes this morning outside her home, said tyres should not be burnt.
This year, the Tamil Nadu government and the state's pollution body had launched a campaign to dissuade people from burning plastics. The practice causes health hazards and a dip in visibility, leading to massive delays in flights, they had argued. On Tuesday, three flights were delayed in Chennai.
The Pollution Control Board says burning of old materials, particularly plastics and rubber, has drastically come down over the years due to their sustained campaigns.