With civic chief Ajoy Mehta fearing that Sunday’s Deonar fire incident may be sabotage, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) now plans to take help of local residents to keep a vigil on those entering the dumping ground.
The civic chief has instructed all civic officials involved in the day-to-day functioning of the dumping ground to weigh all vehicles/dumpers entering the ground to dump the waste and take photographs of the number plates of these vehicles. Mehta had on Monday said the process of declaring the dumping ground as prohibited area has been initiated.
Along with installation of 40 night vision cameras and initiating the process of levelling the mountain of garbage, the civic chief plans to use a chemical spray, suggested by IIT-B, to reduce the smoke at Deonar. The civic body will also deploy 10 fire tenders at the spot on a permanent basis.
Addressing corporators’ concerns in the standing committee on Tuesday, Mehta said, “Involvement of residents will be helpful to keep anti-social elements at bay. All vehicles carrying waste can enter only from one main entrance. The administration is serious about the issue and is constantly following up with the police commissioner too.”
Corporators from the Opposition fumed over the lethargic attitude of the administration, claiming the promises made after the fire in January are yet to be fulfilled. Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Shaikh said, “On Tuesday morning, a mother of a six-month-old-boy Mohammad Sarfaraz residing in Bainganwadi area came to my office claiming her boy died of suffocation because of the smoke emanating from the Deonar dumping ground. Not just her, but several residents are questioning the elected representatives because of the administration”
However, according to officials, the child was admitted to Rajawadi hospital eight days ago and was being treated for different illnesses. He got discharged from the hospital against medical advice. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of M-east ward, said, “The hospital authorities have claimed he died of pneumonia.”
Congress group leader Pravin Chheda said the incidents of fire have been reported only after the contracts of the contractors appointed for scientific disposal of waste were terminated. BJP group leader Manoj Kotak alleged there was a possibility of developers being involved in it.
The opposition staged a walkout over the issue, claiming unsatisfactory answers from the civic chief, whereas the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP praised the administration for its efforts.
Meanwhile, a protest was staged by Samajwadi Party members outside the dumping ground. “We will not allow vehicles to enter the dumping ground unless all promises that were made are fulfilled. Our state chief Abu Asim Azmi was held by the local police for protesting, but was released immediately,” said Shaikh. Congress city chief, Sanjay Nirupam too met civic chief on this issue and claimed the Sena-BJP alliance was responsible for the mess.