The fire at Deonar was brought under control on Saturday but the smoke from the city’s largest garbage dumping ground continued to blanket a sizeable part of the eastern suburbs and central Mumbai, forcing the local civic body to shut down 74 schools.
As reports poured in of people suffering respiratory problems due to the think smog, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ordered 74 schools in the area to be shut down. The schools are located in the M-ward where people are complaining about the foul smell due to the burning garbage at the dumping ground, a BMC official said.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday took cognisance of the gigantic fire and directed municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta to take immediate action to douse the inferno.
“Spoke to municipal commissioner. He assured that no stone will be left unturned to control the smoke at Deonar,” Fadnavis tweeted on Saturday.
The Mumbai fire brigade deployed 14 fire tenders, two mini water tenders (water mist), eight tankers, three ambulances, a breathing apparatus van and other relief equipment to deal at the site. Around 21 officers of the brigade, along with 132 firefighters and its employees, worked relentlessly to tame the raging fire.
While the cause of the fire is yet unclear, rag-pickers are known to set garbage on fire at the Deonar dumping ground. The fire had started earlier this week and turned into an inferno on Thursday.
“The fire is in control but it would take some time to douse it completely,” said a senior fire official.
The resultant smoke, however, has had serious ramifications on the air quality in Mumbai, which continued to be at “very poor” level for the second day in a row . The air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 318 through the day on Saturday and fell to 306 in the evening.
The System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) has predicted an AQI of 311 for Sunday.
On Saturday, of the 10 localities where the pollution levels were measured, Malad was the most-polluted during the day with an AQI of 432, falling under “severe” levels that fell to “moderate” levels by the evening.
Andheri and Navi Mumbai were the most-polluted locations in the evening with AQI levels at 338 and 339 respectively.
SAFAR stated that the weather conditions, including a concentration of moisture in the air, had led to suspension of pollutants in the air, leading to the poor air quality. In the eastern suburbs, the fire at the dump yard worsened the air quality further.