Fire at Ghazipur rages for five hours
A portion of the 70-acre Ghazipur landfill went up in flames on Sunday, sending out a cloud of smoke and toxic fumes into the air with residents of the nearby colonies complaining of suffocation and a burning sensation in the eyes.
The fire raged for five hours before it was extinguished.
Chief Fire Officer, Delhi Fire Service, Atul Garg said the fire started at 4pm.
Ten fire tenders were pressed into services and the blaze was extinguished by 9pm.
An East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) official said the fire was spread over an area of 250-300 metres. He said the portion that caught fire was just 200-300 metres away from the spot where a garbage collapse swept two persons into the Kondli drain and killed them in September 2017. This is the “south side” of the landfill, which runs parallel to the Hindon Canal, said an EDMC official, requesting anonymity since he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The official said the steep rise in temperature on Saturday caused build up of methane, which caught fire after coming into contact with air. The maximum temperature on Saturday was recorded at 39.2 degrees Celsius.
“Biodegradation in anaerobic conditions deep inside the garbage mountain, which is cut off from oxygen, causes build up of methane. Since its ignition temperature is 50 degrees Celsius only, when it finds a vent and emerges out, it ignites,” he said.
Often, a casually thrown stub of beedi or a cigarette, or a lit matchstick, also triggers fire at the landfill.
In October 2017, a fire raged in the 70-metres-high landfill for seven hours before being extinguished. Another fire was reported in March 2018.
“Till three years ago, we used to have several such episodes between April and June. Then we secured the entire periphery of the 70-acre landfill with steel poles and barbed wires. We closed entry of outsiders and unauthorized waste-pickers. We also put up boards prohibiting matchsticks and cigarettes here. To prevent entry of outsiders, we deployed staff for 24x7 patrolling and installed CCTVs for monitoring. However, the slopes still remain vulnerable,” an official associated with management of the landfill said.
Athar Querishi, a resident of Mulla Colony on the opposite side of Hindon Canal, said, “It was totally unbearable. The fire soared on for the better part of the day.” Even residents of Kondli Phase III DDA Flats, which is about 3 kms away from the Ghazipur landfill, said they could smell something acrid and burning.
“This happens every time there is a fire on the landfill and the wind is blowing this way,” said Cholayil Sashidharan who lives in Kondli Phase III’s Sunshine Apartments.
Despite having exhausted its shelf life in 2002, the landfill still receives 2,000 tonnes of garbage every day. After the garbage collapse incident, the EDMC had started looking for an alternative site. The DDA has allotted a site in Ghonda Gujran but the locals and experts are opposing it, saying the area is Yamuna riverfront and hence, a no-go zone for dumping of garbage.