Chembur resident Rajesh Valappil, 39, suffers from insomnia and irritability in his nasal tract whenever smoke starts to billow from the Deonar dumping ground, more than 4 km from his house.
Of late, Valappil has been facing this problem at least twice a week. Smoke and fumes from the Deonar dumping ground are back to haunt residents of Deonar, Mankhurd, Govandi and Chembur.
Locals said that although fumes were not as dense as it used to be a few years ago, the frequency of these incidents leaves them breathless.
Valappil said, “Officials of the dumping ground insist that the smoke isn’t emanating from the ground. However, I live on the tenth floor and can see the ground and detect the source of smoke.”
Activist Rajkumar Sharma, who has been campaigning against the smoke from the dumping ground said, “There is smoke from the ground almost every day. Officials tell us unruly elements light fires there.”
Although civic officials said that the garbage on the ground often catches fire owing to the excessive methane generated from the garbage, insiders — who work at the ground — said that these fires are lit during clashes among various ‘gangs’ that segregate garbage on the ground.
Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner sought to downplay the incidents. “These are just sporadic instances when fire is caused by methane that is generated by the garbage. The frequency is far lesser and we are doing everything we can do curtail them.”
In February, large parts of the ground caught fire and smoke billowed from it for at least three days, forcing some residents to flee from their houses.
Sources in the civic body also attribute the fires to the fact that there has been little headway in the ambitious civic project undertaken to scientifically close the ground and create a sanitary landfill site.