Rising heat triggers fire at Bandhwari landfill site
A fire broke out at the Bandhwari landfill on Monday, a little after 7pm, and was brought under control by fire tenders from Gurugram and Faridabad after efforts lasting 45 minutes.
Experts said the incident is a clear sign of continued violations of the Solid Waste Management Rules(SWM) of 2016 by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and Ecogreen Energy, its concessionaire for waste management in the city.
Fire safety officer IS Kashyap said, “Five trucks from Gurugram and one from Faridabad were deployed for the operation. The fire covered only a small portion of the landfill and was successfully dealt with.”
According to Rajesh Sharma, project head for Ecogreen Energy in Faridabad, the fire broke out due to high concentrations of methane, a flammable gas, being generated at the landfill due to decomposition of solid municipal waste. “One of the dump trucks on Monday was leaking oil, which is flammable. The oil caught fire and the presence of methane led to the flames spreading into the landfill,” he said. Sharma did not clarify how the oil caught fire.
Rekha Singh, a solid waste management expert certified by the Quality Council of India, contested this official account, saying, “Landfill fires are quite common when SWM rules are not adhered to. With the onset of summer, higher temperatures cause organic matter present in waste to decompose at a more rapid pace, thereby emitting greater quantities of methane which, under enough pressure and oxygen intrusion into the landfill, spontaneously combust.”
Singh also said that methane emissions are expected to be mitigated by covering landfills and creating infrastructure to allow outflow of flammable gases. Sharma confirmed that there is no such facility present at Bandhwari. “We will be making arrangements for it soon,” he added.
A major fire in 2013 caused the waste management plant at Bandhwari to become defunct.
Since then, municipal bodies in Gurugram and Faridabad have continued to dump over 1,000 tonnes of garbage at the site daily. Fires are a common occurrence at landfills in Delhi, such as Ghazipur and Bawana, and have been recognised as a serious environmental concern by the Delhi government.
In response to the incident, the MCG and Ecogreen Energy on Tuesday floated a ‘request for proposal’ (RPF) for the “scientific treatment of existing municipal solid waste and leachate in Bandhwari”.
Yashpal Yadav, MCG commissioner, said, “We have floated an RPF for treatment and other issues at the plant.”
Vaishali Rana Chandra, a city-based activist, said, “Treatment of waste and leachate are the responsibilities of Ecogreen. The fact that they are now trying to bring in a third party for the same is a testament to their failure.
Gaurav Joshi, CEO, Ecogreen, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.