Fire breaks out at Bandhwari landfill second time in a month
Two fires broke out in Bandhwari village, about 20km from the city, on Tuesday afternoon. No injuries were reported in either of the incidents. However, one of the fires erupted in the Bandhwari landfill for a second time in a month. A similar fire had broken out in the dump on April 1.
The first fire took place around 2pm in a forested area adjacent to the Gurgaon-Faridabad toll plaza. Fire safety officer Satyawan Samriwal said the fire is suspected to have been started when some road construction workers threw a burning cigarette in the forest, setting indigenous trees and plants ablaze. Three tenders were sent to the spot from Gurugram, which took about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
The second fire took place in the Bandhwari landfill soon after. Samriwal attributed this blaze to a build-up of methane, a flammable gas, at the landfill due to decomposition of solid municipal waste. “Six fire tenders, four from Gurugram and two from Faridabad, were pressed into action. It took fire fighters more than four hours to control the flames,” Samriwal said.
Rekha Singh, a solid waste management expert certified by the Quality Council of India, said, “Landfill fires are quite common when Solid Waste Management (SMW) Rules are not adhered to. With the onset of summer, higher temperatures cause organic matter present in the waste to decompose more rapidly, thereby emitting greater quantities of methane which, under enough pressure and oxygen intrusion into the landfill, spontaneously combust.”
A major fire in 2013 had caused the Bandhwari waste management plant to become defunct. Since then, municipal bodies in Gurugram and Faridabad have continued to dump over 1,000 tonnes of untreated garbage at the site every day.
Fires are a common occurrence at landfills in Delhi and have been recognised as a serious environmental concern by the Delhi government due to the toxic emissions of carbon monoxide, dioxins and particulate matter.
Singh also said that methane emissions can be mitigated by covering landfills and creating infrastructure to allow outflow of flammable gases, in accordance with the SWM Rules.
On April 1, when a similar fire had erupted at the site, Ecogreen Energy project head Rajesh Sharma had confirmed that Bandhwari had no such facility. “We will soon make arrangements for it,” he had said back then.
Officials from Ecogreen Energy, including CEO Gaurav Joshi, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.