Delhi govt to fine East MCD ₹50L over Ghazipur landfill fire
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai also sought action against officials on duty at the time of the incident.
New Delhi: Two days after a fire broke out at the Ghazipur landfill, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to impose a fine of ₹50 lakh on the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for negligence and also sought action against officials on duty at the time of the incident. Rai also said the government will hold a high-level meeting on April 4 to prepare a plan to prevent such fires from taking place across landfills in Delhi.
Separately, on Wednesday, the Environment Committee of the Delhi assembly, headed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Atishi, also issued summons to the EDMC commissioner regarding the fire and the deposition will also take place on April 4.
The Ghazipur landfill blaze broke out on Monday and firefighting operations went on for over two days, finally ending on Wednesday evening. Delhi Police on Wednesday said they have filed a first information report (FIR) against unknown persons and have begun investigation in the matter.
“We have taken two actions regarding the incident. One, we have directed the DPCC to issue a fine of ₹50 lakh on the corporation. Two, all workers who were on duty when the fire broke out must be held accountable and appropriate action must be taken for negligence. Directions regarding these are being communicated from the DPCC to the corporation, so that such unfortunate instances can be avoided in future,” he said.
“The Ghazipur landfill site in Delhi caught fire on March 28 in the afternoon. People residing in the areas surrounding the landfill began facing a great difficulty in breathing and the local MLA raised questions regarding this incident in the Vidhan Sabha on the day itself,” said Rai on Wednesday.
The minister added that he issued directions to the DPCC on Monday to investigate the incident and submit a report within 24 hours. “A detailed report was received today (Wednesday) regarding the reason behind the fire as well as the measures for environment protection in the region, with the corporation found to be severely lacking in several areas. A significant amount of negligence on the part of the corporation was also found in terms of the rules and regulations that needed to be followed,” he said.
Rai said of the 25 trommel machines on site, only 21 were found to be operational, and anti-smog guns – mandatory for the site -- too were non-functional.
“In order to record such accidents, 24 CCTV cameras are in place in and around the site, but only 17 were found to be in working condition. These cameras have been installed so that immediate information regarding such accidents can be received, and instant action to tackle the same can be taken.” he said.
He also pointed out that despite Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines mandating construction of a boundary wall around the landfill site, this was yet to be completed.
Rai said the review meeting on April 4, which will consist of officials from the environment department, revenue department, PWD, corporations, fire department, DUSIB, New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantomment Board, aims to launch a campaign against such fires and to create a road map to prevent this from happening again.
Atishi said the East MCD commissioner will be asked to explain before the environment committee the steps taken to prevent a repeat of such fires and the quantum of waste being dumped at the landfill each day.
EDMC mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal said that the AAP-led Delhi government is trying play politics over issue. “Everyone knows that methane is generated from decomposing waste and that it sometimes catches fire when the temperatures rise. It is a natural phenomenon. Will imposition of a fine stop this process? AAP is just interested in financially crippling the corporation. If they provided us our rightful share of taxes, the landfill would have been cleared by now.”
Fire finally doused
Delhi Fire Services (DFS) chief Atul Garg said the dousing operation at the landfill was really difficult as the fire was spread across a large area. “On Wednesday, we had pressed four fire tenders into service to help our firefighters. After the fire was doused completely at around 2pm, we withdrew all our vehicles and personnel from the sight,” he said.
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner of police (east) Priyanaka Kashyap said the police have already registered an FIR against unknown persons under sections 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health), 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible material), and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC on Tuesday. “As the blaze is controlled now, we will scan the footage of CCTV cameras installed at the landfill. It will ascertain whether there was any mischief behind the fire or not,” she said.