Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill fire ignites political firestorm between BJP, AAP | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill fire ignites political firestorm between BJP, AAP

Apr 22, 2024 03:23 PM IST

Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva went to the Ghazipur landfill site on Monday morning and took the first shot at the AAP

NEW DELHI: A political firestorm broke out on Monday over the fire at the Ghazipur landfill site in east Delhi with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the city’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hurling allegations at each other over the garbage dump’s management and the origin of the fire.

Delhi minister Atishi on Monday said the Ghazipur landfill fire incident will be investigated to ascertain the cause of the blaze. (HT Photo/Vipin Kumar)
Delhi minister Atishi on Monday said the Ghazipur landfill fire incident will be investigated to ascertain the cause of the blaze. (HT Photo/Vipin Kumar)

Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva went to the landfill site on Monday morning and took the first shot at the AAP, which runs the city government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

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“Arvind Kejriwal and AAP promised that the landfill site will be cleared by December 2023 if they win the MCD elections (held in December 2022)... A new landfill site has been created instead,” he told television cameras, speaking against the backdrop of billowing clouds of toxic smoke rising from the garbage mountain.

“This is the result of corruption as more than half of the trommel machines are non-operational. New companies have not been appointed as the standing committee is not in place,” Sachdeva said, referring to the mechanical screening machine which acts as cylindrical rotating sieves.

Delhi BJP chief Virender Sachdeva said AAP and Arvind Kejriwal announced that they would remove this landfill by 2023, but the game of corruption is being played here. (HT Photo/Vipin Kumar)
Delhi BJP chief Virender Sachdeva said AAP and Arvind Kejriwal announced that they would remove this landfill by 2023, but the game of corruption is being played here. (HT Photo/Vipin Kumar)

A fire broke out at the landfill site at 5pm on Sunday when the flames were spotted drifting towards the middle of the landfill facing the paper market and drain. The last landfill fire at Ghazipur was reported on June 12, 2023.

Sachdeva said the cause of the fire should be investigated and underscored that the fire did not start on its own. “The causes are not natural, there is clear corruption behind this. It should be investigated and action should be taken against the guilty,” he added.

Delhi minister and senior AAP leader Atishi promised a detailed investigation. “The fire tenders of Delhi Fire Service (DFS) were at the spot throughout the night… The fire has been doused. We hope that the smoke will also fade away in some time,” Atishi told reporters in response to a question.

Atishi said the government will investigate how the fire broke out. “We will investigate how the fire broke out, who initiated the fire and the process due to which the fire may have started,” the minister said.

Delhi mayor Shelly Oberoi, who also visited the landfill site, said the smoke would be controlled soon. “As soon as I came to know, I instructed officers to act and inspect the site. They were here the whole night. It is better now. The situation is better. The smoke will be controlled in next 5 hours. We will investigate the matter. The BJP is only alleging. It is not a time for politics,” she said, according to a PTI report.

Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi said the smoke would be controlled in the next five hours. (HT Photo/Vipin Kumar)
Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi said the smoke would be controlled in the next five hours. (HT Photo/Vipin Kumar)

A DFS official on Sunday explained that fires at landfill sites usually took place due to methane generated due to the decomposition of organic and wet waste. “Methane pockets build up during summers and ignite with temperature rise but with the biomining process, the number of such instances has reduced,” the official added.

Biomining has been slow at Ghazipur

Delhi started dumping waste at Ghazipur in 1984 across a 70-acre site for waste management. The Ghazipur site, the capital’s oldest and largest landfill, should have ideally been closed in 2002. But waste continues to be dumped here in the absence of a new site.

A section of the garbage dump that had reached 50 metres collapsed in 2017 when nearly 50 tonnes of garbage came crashing down like an avalanche, sweeping away a car and three two-wheelers on a nearby road and killing two persons. But it continued to grow and reached a height of 65 metres, just eight metres short of the iconic Qutub Minar, in 2019 leading the National Green Tribunal to order the authorities to start clearing the city’s three legacy waste dumps. The NGT initially set a one-year deadline.

An MCD official said that 58 trommel machines are currently deployed at the three landfill sites — 22 machines at Bhalswa, 25 at Ghazipur, and 11 at Okhla.

“The performance of the contractor at the Ghazipur landfill site has been slow, and we have issued several warnings. The company is facing internal challenges. Meanwhile, we are unable to hire new companies as the MCD standing committee is not in place,” the official told HT last month, referring to a powerful 18-member committee that controls the purse strings of the civic body.

The biomining process at Ghazipur has been the slowest among the three, forcing the authorities to shift the deadline from December 2024 to 2026. Biomining is a process of separating various components of legacy waste such as plastic, paper, cloth, sand, and bricks by passing them through trommel machines.

Sachdeva flagged the non-operational machines.

“Life of the people in adjacent areas, in Mayur Vihar and Kondli, has become hell. I also live in Mayur Vihar… AAP and Arvind Kejriwal announced that they would remove this landfill by December 2023 but the game of corruption is being played here. 25 machines should have been deployed here but only half of this number are operational. Who is responsible? New tenders are not being floated as the standing committee is not being formed. Decisions are not being taken. Who is responsible? Arvind Kejriwal...The day BJP government is formed in Delhi, all three landfills in Delhi will be removed within a year.”

Atishi countered the criticism, saying the garbage mountain was getting smaller after the AAP came to power in MCD. “The height is going down at a fast pace which has not been observed in the history of MCD but it will take some time for the AAP government to clear the mess that the BJP has made in Delhi for 15 years.”

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