Massive fire at Bhalswa landfill in north Delhi, 4th landfill fire in a month

Garbage dumping at the Bhalswa landfill site spread over 36 acre started in 1994. It has an accumulated legacy waste weighing 80 lakh tonnes
A view of the fire that broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday night (HT Photo)
A view of the fire that broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday night (HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 26, 2022 10:41 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: A massive fire broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday evening, the fourth such largescale fire in Delhi’s landfill site over the last month. The other three fires were reported from east Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill site.

Nearly 10 fire tenders of the Delhi Fire Services (DFS) have been battling the blaze since 5.45pm. A senior north municipal corporation said efforts to douse the fire were on till late in the night and the corporation has deployed excavators to dump sand on the origin of the fire. “It has not yet known whether the fire was caused by methane generation or some human activity,” the municipal official clarified on condition of anonymity.

The frequency of landfill fires has increased with the rise in temperature. The first major inferno this summer was reported at Ghazjpur on March 28, and it continued to burn for three days, with thick fumes blanketing the areas of Ghazipur, Kondli, Patparganj, IP Extension, Kaushambi and Khoda in Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Two more blazes were reported at the site on April 10 and April 20, the DFS said.

A view of the fire that broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday (PTI)
A view of the fire that broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday (PTI)

A second senior north municipal corporation official said when temperatures rise, the methane generated by decaying organic matter, basically from the legacy waste at the landfill sites, also increases.

“Methane gas spontaneously ignites under such weather conditions. It is a natural phenomenon. Such a major fire at Bhalswa has not occurred lately and we will look into the exact cause once the situation is under control,” the official said, asking not to be named.

A Delhi Fire Services official said treatment of waste is the only solution. “The corporation should dump an inert layer of sand and construction waste after every layer of freshly dumped waste. Such layers act as barriers against the fire,” the official said, asking not to be named.

Passersby look at a massive fire which broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday night (PTI)
Passersby look at a massive fire which broke out at the Bhalswa landfill site in north Delhi on Tuesday night (PTI)

Jogi Ram Jain, standing committee chairman, north corporation said all bulldozers have been pressed into action for dumping inert material. “Our teams and sanitation department chief are on the spot. We are trying to extinguish the fire tonight itself. An inquiry will be conducted into the incident,” he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which is in the opposition in the three municipal corporations, blamed the mismanagement of the BJP-led civic bodies for the frequent fires. Durgesh Pathak, AAP leader in charge of municipal affairs, said, “These fires are due to the corruption of BJP-led corporations and it will take them down.”

According to the DFS data, there were four fire incidents at Ghazipur landfill site in 2021. In 2020 and 2019, eight and six such incidents were reported. At the Bhalswa landfill, there were 12 fire incidents last year while two fires were reported this year so far.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022