Second fire at Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill in two weeks

Updated on Apr 11, 2022 05:38 AM IST

There was an inferno at the capital’s biggest landfill on March 28 as well, which smouldered for three days, bellowing thick smoke over a large area that included Ghazipur, Kondli, Patparganj, IP Extension, Kaushambi and Khoda in Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh

The fire at landfills is caused due to methane emanating from decomposing waste, and it is a natural phenomenon observed all across the world, said Shyam Sunder Aggarwal, mayor of EDMC. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
The fire at landfills is caused due to methane emanating from decomposing waste, and it is a natural phenomenon observed all across the world, said Shyam Sunder Aggarwal, mayor of EDMC. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
By, New Delhi

In the second such incident in recent weeks, there was a big fire at the Ghazipur landfill late on Saturday night that took three hours to douse. The authorities blamed the fire partly on the high temperatures prevailing in the region.

The fire was reported at around 10.30pm on Saturday, an East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) spokesperson said. “It was brought under the control during the night by deploying six bulldozers and seeking help of the fire department,” the spokesperson said.

There was an inferno at the capital’s biggest landfill on March 28 as well, which smouldered for three days, bellowing thick smoke over a large area that included Ghazipur, Kondli, Patparganj, IP Extension, Kaushambi and Khoda in Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

EDMC is looking for a new site to dump over 2,000 tonnes of garbage that is overloading the Ghazipur landfill that is estimated to hold 14 million tonnes of legacy waste accumulated over the past 38 years.

The fire at landfills is caused due to methane emanating from decomposing waste, and it is a natural phenomenon observed all across the world, said Shyam Sunder Aggarwal, mayor of EDMC.

“Delhi is facing record temperatures, due to which such incidents are happening again and again,” he said. “It is a natural phenomenon which cannot be stopped, but we have made adequate arrangements for controlling fires by placing bulldozers and water tankers on standby.”

Durgesh Pathak of the Aam Aadmi party, who co-ordinates with Delhi’s municipal corporations on behalf of the Delhi government, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of not doing enough to manage the landfills. The EDMC is controlled by the BJP.

Although EDMC is dumping 2,000 tonnes of fresh garbage everyday at Ghazipur, down from 2,800 tonnes daily earlier, the municipality still needs to stop using the overloaded landfill, Aggarwal said.

“A 12 acre site has been sought for fresh waste near Ghazipur paper market. We will create 12 feet high walls and a green belt to ensure that no stench in felt in neighbouring area,” he said. “It is Delhi’s waste and it needs to disposed somewhere.”

Fresh dumping was temporarily halted in September 2017 when a section of the landfill collapsed, claiming the lives of two people. EDMC’s efforts to divert waste to Rani Khera , Sonia Vihar and Ghonda Gujran have faced resistance from local residents and invited adverse comments from the National Green Tribunal.

The BJP has repeatedly made false promises concerning these three landfill sites, alleged Pathak. “In 2017, state BJP chief Manoj Tiwari had promised that if voted to power in the MCD, their party will get rid of all three of these landfills within a year,” he said. “It is unfortunate that instead of working on the disposal of the existing landfill sites, the BJP has asked the central government for another stretch of land in Delhi for a new landfill site.”

The BJP said Pathak’s allegations lack logic. “Durgesh Pathak has said we will not let any landfill site to come up in Delhi. Will he tell the people if he won’t allow any landfill site, where would the disposal of garbage take place in Delhi? Major cities in the world have at least one or more landfill sites,” said Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor.

The management of garbage disposal has been hampered due to lack of funds at the municipalities and the work needs to be speeded up, Kapoor admitted.

The people of Delhi are suffering due to fires at the landfill and the BJP-led corporations do not have solution for Ghazipur’s mountain of garbage, AAP MLA Atishi said.

“Now the Centre will directly manage the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi), so will the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) find a solution to this issue?” she asked. Parliament enacted a law on April 5 to merge all three municipal corporations of Delhi.

There are no quick fixes for the garbage disposal problem, according to Atin Biswas, a waste management expert and program director of municipal solid waste sector at the Centre for Science and Environment, an advocacy group.

“Our immediate concern should be the dumping of fresh waste, which decomposes much faster and leads to generation of combustible greenhouse gases. The sites are 30-40 years old, but the problematic fraction of waste is a much recent addition,” Biswas said.

The landfill management teams should ensure that compaction of fresh waste is carried out to remove any air pockets so that methane cannot come in contact with oxygen, which leads to combustion, he said. Additionally, an inert soil layer should be developed, Biswas said.

Landfill fires occur in dump sites all across the country, but Delhi’s scale is much larger as the city produces such a huge volume of garbage.

The national capital generates more than 11,119 tonnes of garbage everyday, out of which 6,473 tonnes is dumped at landfills, 4,550 tonnes is sent to three waste to energy plants, and the rest is composted.

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