Deonar fire still on, locals at risk

  • Vaishnavi Vasudevan and Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2015 01:14 IST

For the second day in a row, the city’s largest dumping ground in Deonar continued to burn, spreading thick toxic smoke over parts of the eastern suburbs and central Mumbai, with areas such as Govandi, Deonar, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Wadala, Antop Hill and Sion the worst-affected.

While the Mumbai Fire brigade team was struggling to douse the blaze till the time of going to press, residents on Friday complained of breathing problem, low visibility and acrid smell. Doctors said toxic gases realised from the burning garbage can lead to serious health issues in those inhaling them.

Environmentalists slammed the authorities for ineffective solid waste management system. However, even as the smoke spread till Sewri, Byculla and parts of South Mumbai, there has been no official announcement from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about the incident.

Instead, the civic fire brigade control room claimed the fire is under control.

“The fire is getting worse and spreading to many locations. On Thursday night we managed to almost douse it at all locations, but because of the wind, the fire erupted again and later spread to other areas,” said Minesh Pimple, deputy chief engineer of solid waste management department.

The Deonar dumping ground is spreads across a massive 326 acres and receives 7500MT tonnes of garbage every day.

“The thick smoke is making it difficult to breathe. Our windows and doors were closed throughout the day,” said Rajesh Vallapil, a Chembur resident.

The fire broke out on Wednesday night, following which four fire engines and tankers were rushed to the spot. On Friday, over 30 water tankers were pressed into service, but the situation is yet to be brought under control. At the time of going to press, an official said it could at least take a day more.

“It is getting extremely difficult to breathe but the fire brigade team is doing their best to put the fire off,” the official said.

The smoke from the burning mass has toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. “People living in proximity to the dumping ground are in danger. Those who are already on treatment should increase their medication and others having difficulty breathing should immediately go in for a lung function test,” said Sanjeev Mehta, pulmonologist, Lilavati Hospital.

The Maharasthra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) could not be reached for a comment.

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