As trucks zoom in and out of the overburdened Mulund dump yard, an advertisement near the ground by the BMC asks people to cast their votes .
When the city goes to polls this month, ironically, the 44-year-old Mulund dump yard is going to be the centre of the fight for votes in a large part of Mulund. For more than a decade now, residents of T ward (Mulund) have been asking for the dumping ground to be shut, as fires and stench has created health hazards for the people living in the area.
“The mounting waste is as high as a two-storey building. The Mulund and Kanjurmarg dumping grounds are both in the eastern suburbs. Why should only we take the burden?” said Birju Mundra, a Mulund resident.
The BMC’s Environment Status Report 2016 showed Mulund got 41% of the city’s garbage. For the residents here, poll promises are no longer good enough. “Mulund has voted for the BJP for 20 years now, but we only get assurances. The BJP said the ground will be shut on August 15. What happened after that?” said Narayan Bhagwanani, a resident of Sane Guruji Nagar. While the residents hope the focus finally shifts to the dump yard, the BJP and Sena are looking at a different battle. So far, Mulund’s six electoral wards had four sitting corporators from the BJP. This time, the Sena will contest owing to their break-up. It has roped in former BJP functionaries.
While the BMC must shut Deonar and Mulund by June 30, 2017, according to a Bombay HC order, it has so far got just one bidder to treat the waste. Meanwhile, a proposal to set up another dumping ground at Airoli has irked residents further. Prakash Padikkal, a resident said, “They will not shut the dump yard, they will not have separate trucks for wet and dry waste even when societies are willing to segregate and we pay taxes . It is ridiculous.”
The area has mixed population of Maharashtrians, Gujaratis, Jains, south Indians and Christians. In the past decade, Mulund has become cosmopolitan as industrial plants made way for residential high-rises. Political parties’ challenge: getting their arithmetic right to win.