“I can’t breathe properly,” said a Class 2 student in his letter to the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, urging him to act on the problem of large-scale burning of garbage at the Devguradia landfill.
Some 500 children living near the dumping ground wrote to Shivraj Singh Chouhan to bring to his attention the pitiful condition of residents due to millions of tonnes of untreated waste piling up at the site after a garbage-treatment plant was gutted in a fire in May last year.
“I am suffering from ‘acute tonsillitis’ and doctors prescribed an operation... The dangerous smoke from the trenching ground is all around my school and house. I am inhaling smoke 24 hours [a day]. Please hear my appeal and help me live a healthy life,” wrote Momin Abbas, who moved to Kalindi Midtown, near the landfill, two years ago.
The Devguradia landfill has been an ongoing problem for Indoreans, especially over the last few years. More than 1,000 families live within a two-kilometre radius of the trenching site, and despite numerous letters to authorities, demonstrations and public debates on the problem, there appears to be no solution in sight.
“We stay in the vicinity of Devguradia, where garbage from all across Indore is collected and dumped and burned. This [creates] a lot of smoke and stench, due to which we could not play in the open. It also makes us sick,” said Radhika Singh, a Class 3 student.
“Please shift this trenching ground to make me live a healthy life,” requested Anirudha Kambrelkar, a Class 1 student.
Some children also expressed concern for the well-being of their grandparents, who are particularly vulnerable to the cloud of thick smoke that blankets the area on most days.
Explaining the effects of the smoke on the respiratory system of children, Dr Sanjay Londhe said, “If a person continuously inhales air with a toxicity levels of 300 to 400 rspm (respirable suspended particulate matter, a more dangerous pollutant with particulates less than or equal to 10 microns in diameter), he has high chances of getting bronchial infection, COPD and severe congestion.”
Pollution levels alarmingly high in the area: SPCB
The state pollution control board in a report last year too confirmed that pollution levels were alarmingly high in the area.
“The situation gets worse among children, who continuously face the problem of throat infection. The situation becomes more harmful as the level of toxicity increases, depending on the trash and garbage burned here. In the long-term, particles get settled in lungs, they stop blood flow to the organ and make the patient more susceptible to other diseases,” said Londhe.
The letters will be handed over to the chief minister on Tuesday.
Air pollution figures recorded in January 2015
200 Value recorded against the wind
400-500 Value recorded in the direction of the wind
100 Normal value (upper limit)
All figures in Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (rspm)
(Source: Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board)