Delhi landfill fire: Residents camp indoors to escape Ghazipur fumes | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi landfill fire: Residents camp indoors to escape Ghazipur fumes

Apr 23, 2024 05:40 AM IST

People living in the shadow of Ghazipur landfill in Delhi are well-versed in how to deal with smoke from fires at what is dubbed the tallest landfill site in the country

Rehana Ali was on Sunday afternoon helping her father set up their small shop in front of their house at Mulla Colony in east Delhi — right opposite the Ghazipur landfill — when she saw flames flickering at the mountain of garbage.

While firefighters were still attempting to control the blaze on Monday, smoke from the site continued to affect areas such as Mulla Colony, Rajbir Colony, Ghazipur Dairy, and Mayur Vihar Phase 3. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photoimes)
While firefighters were still attempting to control the blaze on Monday, smoke from the site continued to affect areas such as Mulla Colony, Rajbir Colony, Ghazipur Dairy, and Mayur Vihar Phase 3. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photoimes)

“We immediately rushed into our house to close all the windows to stop the smoke from coming inside,” the 20-year-old said.

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For people living in the shadow of the landfill, the experience was nothing new — the residents, many of whom suffer from respiratory illnesses, breathing problems, and chest infections — are well-versed in how to deal with smoke from fires at what is dubbed the tallest landfill site in the country.

Ali’s father, Mahfooz, 62, has been sick since the fire first broke out. “He has a heart condition... We brought him indoors but he must have inhaled some smoke… Even if you shut the windows, they cannot be airtight. We could barely sleep last night,” she said.

Naveen Khan, 30, who lives in Rajbir Colony, said as soon as his family realised that the landfill was on fire, their first thought was to rush the children indoors.

“My kids were playing outside. My wife and I rushed to get them inside to save them from the toxic fumes from the fire. The wind direction on Sunday was such that the smoke was coming towards our locality,” he said.

While firefighters were still attempting to control the blaze on Monday, smoke from the site continued to affect areas such as Mulla Colony, Rajbir Colony, Ghazipur Dairy, and Mayur Vihar Phase 3.

Data from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi shows that only one major fire was reported at the Ghazipur landfill last year, but there were five such blazes in 2022, eight in 2021 and 2020 each, and 48 such cases in 2019. Such landfill fires lead to toxic fumes emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and polluting gases such as hydrogen sulphide, dioxins, and furans.

When HT visited the landfill on Monday afternoon, a thick layer of smoke covered one end of Mulla Colony, and children returning home from school covered their faces with handkerchiefs and scarves. Sufian Mullik, 15, a Class 10 student, said, “The build-up of gas from all the waste in the landfill causes small fires that go unnoticed, and there are usually a couple big blazes like this one every summer.”

Residents are hopeful for the future — many agreed that the size of the garbage mound has reduced amidst ongoing work to flatten the landfill. However, it is the present that they are still worried about.

“The progress is not enough... A large number of trucks come to dump waste here every day, and the smell and the dust is unbearable. Even the drinking water is contaminated,” Md Shaikil, 28, who lives at Ghazipur Diary, said.

“However, even if the progress is slow, any progress is better than none,” he said.

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