Though rain brings houseflies to most Mumbai homes, at Hari Om Nagar in Mulund ( East), insects descend like a plague of locusts.
How to get rid of them is the subject of intense discussions among residents, and conversations range from the low stock of fly repellent sprays at the pharmacy to the fly menace at the nearby Nalanda Public School and contract renewal with a pest management firm.
Houseflies are just a visible manifestation of the problems caused by the 45-year- old dumping ground.
Started in 1968, it is the city’s second oldest landfill site and currently the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation dumps 2,000 tonnes of waste on 15 to 20 hectares of the 25-hectare site.
For residents of Hari Om Nagar, most of whom moved into the locality 15 years ago, the dump stands like a hill, green with wild shrubs during the monsoon, less than 200 metres from some buildings, spewing pollution and infection into their homes.
Manoj Gopalani, 44, used to live in the United States before he moved back to India in 2006 with his wife and son and shifted into Castle Rock housing society. Though their living room has two windows, the Gopalanis get no breeze as the windows are shut to keep off the stench.
His wife Rashi, 40, finds it difficult to complete two sentences without coughing.
“When we lived in US, we had no health issues. Of late, I have been admitted twice to hospital and have been diagnosed with bronchitis,” said Rashi.
Manoj’s cousin Dr Vinay Gopalani shows Rashi’s medical reports which indicate that her Immunoglobulin (IgE) values are at 400; the normal level should be 100. High IgE levels are found in allergies such as hay fever, topic bronchitis and dermatitis, the report states.
The Gopalanis contemplated moving out but owing to financial constraints, have decided against it.
The smoke triggers respiratory disorders, especially among children, said local doctors.
“Pollution from the landfill site is a major trigger for hyper-reactive airway disorders and wheezing disorders among children. Almost 30% of the cases in my clinic are related to respiratory disorders from Mulund (East),” said Dr Prakash Vaidya, paediatrician, Fortis hospital, Mulund.
Residents have organised themselves under the Hari Om Nagar Apex Federation Body (HONAFE) and backed by Congress’ Member of Legislative Council Charan Singh Sapra have demanded closure of the site.
“Most buildings in Hari Om Nagar are situated less than a kilometre from the site. More than 30,000 residents suffer from stench, smoke and the insect menace. There is no sign of waste processing. All the civic body does is dump their garbage. They have now overshot the site’s capacity,” said S Subramanian, vice- chairman, HONAFE.