For the last two years, Abhishek Uldenia (25), a resident of Sandeep Park in Deonar, has regularly suffered cough-and-cold episodes that last up to two months.
A former athlete, the sales representative at a multinational corporation says he has a reasonably healthy lifestyle and goes for a run every morning and evening.
“There was a time when we would open the window after 11 pm and feel a warm breeze accompanied by a stench that felt like it was coming from a chemical factory,” he said. “This has stopped happening for the past three to four months, but I still fell ill with a cough recently.”
In November, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation began closing the Deonar dumping ground, one of three garbage landfill sites in the city (the other two are in Gorai and Mulund).
The corporation has said it needs two years to complete the whole process, which it will implement in stages.
Residents who live in and around the dump say pollution has dropped over the last three months but add that many of them still suffer from respiratory problems.
S Srinavasan (60), a resident of Pestom Sagar in Chembur, believes residents will know only in winter how effective the closure proves to be.
“Pollution is at its height in winter, when it is cold and the smog lingers 30 to 40 feet above the ground,” he said. “During summer, the smog dissipates quickly, and during the monsoon it is washed away by the rain water.”
Dr Sandeep Rane (51), president of the Smoke Affected Residents’ Forum (SARF) has been fighting for the closure of the dump since 1993.
In 1996, he filed a public interest litigation in the high court against the municipal corporation, and in 2007, a contempt of court petition against it after it failed to take care of the waste as it had promised in an earlier affidavit.
Rane is now on a high court-appointed committee charged with ensuring the dump is shut down according to a timeline suggested by the court.
“There was a time when there was so much smog the entire street was blurred and the lights weren’t visible,” Rane said. “Now, when I go out in the evening, I can see the street lights sparkling.”