Ghazipur landfill in Delhi catches fire after a 10-month lull | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Ghazipur landfill in Delhi catches fire after a 10-month lull

Apr 22, 2024 05:54 AM IST

Officials said that the flames and the first layer of soot were spotted around 5pm drifting towards the middle of the landfill facing the Ghazipur paper market and drain

A fire broke out at the Ghazipur landfill site in east Delhi after a hiatus of 10 months — and the first fire at a landfill this year — prompting authorities to rush at least eight fire tenders and excavators to the spot.

A fire burns at the Ghazipur landfill on Sunday night. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)
A fire burns at the Ghazipur landfill on Sunday night. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

Officials said that the flames and the first layer of soot were spotted around 5pm drifting towards the middle of the landfill facing the Ghazipur paper market and drain. The last landfill fire in Delhi was reported at Ghazipur on June 12, 2023.

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A senior official from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which oversees the dumpsites of the city, said that the fire department was informed about the incident immediately after the blaze was spotted. What started as a small fire turned massive and engulfed several pockets of the landfill at the time of going to press. Initially, only two fire tenders were sent to douse the blaze.

“We have deployed all the excavators present on the landfill site... it is likely to be under control in a few hours,” the official said, asking not to be named.

A senior fire officer said that the first call was made at 5.22pm. “We sent two fire tenders [at first] but then received a call saying the blaze was at a higher point on the landfill surrounded by uneven terrain which made the task difficult. There was also some operational issue since a majority of the staff was deployed to douse the Janpath fire,” the DFS officer said, requesting anonymity.

‘Fire under control’

MCD mayor Shelly Oberoi said the fire started only on a “small patch” and will soon be brought under control. “There is nothing to worry... All senior officials are on site. I am not in Delhi and deputy mayor is overseeing the operations. MCD excavators and fire tenders will soon bring the fire under control,” said Oberoi.

The MCD official quoted above said the reason behind the fire was yet to be ascertained. “Usually, the fires are caused by methane generated due to the decomposition of organic/wet waste. The methane pockets build up during summers and ignite with temperature rise but with the biomining process, the number of such instances has reduced. We will ascertain the reason behind this fire and ramp up the measures,” the official added.

The three main landfill sites in Delhi (Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa) are way past their expiry date. Besides being indicators of an acute waste management crisis, Delhi’s landfill sites also contribute significantly to its air pollution. The Toxic fumes the landfills emit include extremely polluting gases like carbon dioxide and monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, dioxins and furans.

Over the last two years, MCD has introduced a new action plan to tackle such fires which involved a series of steps starting from mandatory spark arresters in all trucks moving in landfill perimeter, an array of CCTV cameras, fire tender deployment, declaring and maintaining “no smoking zones” and adding sensors to monitor the subsurface temperature.

Delhi started dumping waste at Ghazipur in 1984 earmarking a 70-acre site for waste management of the city. In 2019, the site was 65 metres high and had accumulated over 140 million tonne of legacy waste. The biomining process at Ghazipur continues to be the slowest out of the three sites and its new deadline is 2026.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said that the fire was caused due to the criminal negligence of the AAP-led administration. “The fire at Ghazipur led to the region being filled with smoke and stench leading... The fire has been caused by mismanagement by the AAP-led MCD. AAP had promised it will clear the site by December 2023 but the garbage mound continues to grow,” said Kapoor.

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