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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Fire erupts at Ambernath dumping ground near Mumbai

Fed up of complaining to the civic body and the ground’s closure nowhere in sight, irked residents decide to move court for long-term solution

mumbai Updated: Mar 18, 2018 00:36 IST

Hindustan Times
A fireman douses the fire at Ambernath dumping ground on Saturday.
A fireman douses the fire at Ambernath dumping ground on Saturday. (Rishikesh Choudhary/HT)

The Ambernath dumping ground caught major fire on Saturday releasing thick smoke in the nearby areas. Two fire tenders reached the spot to douse the fire soon after the residents complained about breathlessness as smoke entered their houses.

“We can’t even open our windows as the smoke has constantly been entering my house since morning. We are suffering from breathlessness due to this. This is not the first time the dump yard has caught fire. In last few months, the dump yard has been catching fire regularly. I have developed breathing issues recently due to this,” said Ramchandra Dinankar, 66, who lives in Shiv Shakti chawl, nearby the dump yard.

“We received a call in the afternoon about the fire at the dumping ground. We have sent two fire tenders to the spot to control the fire. The fire incidents at this dumping ground are regular, and whenever we get a call, we try to douse the fire as early as possible,” said Bhagwat Sonawane, fire officer, Ambernath Municipal Corporation.

Some of the active residents took the matter to social media as soon as the fire broke out.

“I have been sending the images and videos of the fire incidents at the dumping ground since the last one month. However, there is no response from the authorities. The residents are facing various health issues on a daily basis due to the dumping ground,” said Satyajit Burman, a social activist and founder member of Ambernath citizens’ forum (ACF).

Residents of Morivali Pada in Ambernath (East) have been waking up to the bad smell and thick smoke released from the nearby dumping ground since last two months. The residents complained that recently there has been continuous burning of the wastes in the dumping ground throughout the day and even night hours.

“Earlier the dumping ground would not catch fire regularly. But since last two months, thick smoke is being released from the ground almost each day. There is also an unbearable stench during night. It is becoming very difficult for us to breathe,” said Satish Kumar, 40, a resident of Shubh Residency, which is located near the dumping ground.

Kumar has been living in the area since last 4 years. He along with other residents in the area has taken the social media by posting pictures and details of the problems caused by the dumping ground.

Like Kumar, atleast 100 families in his society are affected by the dumping ground. There are around 25 to 30 housing societies in the area which is affected by the bad smell and thick smoke.

“I had approached the pollution control board several times on this issue but they never respond to my complaints. Residents here are vomiting and facing several health issues due to the polluted environment,” added Kumar.

The residents along with the Ambernath citizen forum (ACF) that fights against civic issues in the area, have now come together to approach the court to bring some pressure on the civic authorities. In February 2017, the members of the forum staged a protest against the civic officials for their failure to address the issue.

Complaining about health problems, more than 300 residents of Ambernath had thronged outside the Ambernath Municipal Council (AMC). One of the major demands from the residents during the protest was to take legal action against the civic body for failing to comply with the environmental norms.

“ We have sent around 10 letters to the civic body asking for a strict action however all of them were neglected, the last option left with us approaching the court, “said Burman.

An area of around 30 acre is operated as a dumping ground by the municipal council of Ambernath, where mixed waste is dumped in the open.

Last year when the residents protested, the civic body assured to start the work of closing the dumping ground in 6 months, however the civic body has failed to start the work.

AMC chief officer, Devidas Pawar, said,” The development plan report to scientifically close the dumping ground is ready. We have also proposed a plan of developing a garbage processing and disposal plant at a 32-acre plot in Chikloli which will cost us Rs 32 crore. The project got delayed because the report was not sanctioned earlier due to some errors. We had to revise it and send it to the state government again for approval. The final approval is expected in another two-three days”.

Located in Ambernath (East) along the Badlapur pipeline road, the dumping of garbage at the ground sprawling around an area of around 30 acres, has been a burning issue for the city over a decade now. Residents have protested against it several times, demanding legal action against the civic body chief and other concerned officers.

Followed by the constant outbreak of fire incidents at Kalyan’s Adharwadi dumping ground last week, the Ambernath Municipal Corporation in a meeting on Friday decided to regularly water the dump yard to control the heat produced there, so that such fire incidents are avoided in the future. The Adharwadi dumping ground caught fire thrice last week, following which civic body chief P Velarasu was transferred.

Meanwhile, after the fire at Kalyan’s Adharwadi dumping ground, the civic body have decided to water the dump yard regularly during the summer to avoid fire incidents. “After learning about the Kalyan dumping ground fire incident, in a meeting held on Friday it was decided that we will put up two pumps at the nullah and well nearby the dump yard. This will help regularly watering the dump yard and control the heat further avoiding a blaze.,”informed Sonawane.

Approach the court:  

After protesting several times against the civic body, the Ambernath citizen forum is now on the verge of approaching the High court against the civic body for its negligence in stopping the burning of wastes activity in the area.

“We have been trying to file a PIL of writ petition in the court in last one year. We are working on it even today. We are seeking maximum support from the residents and activist to come forward and join the petition and make it successful. This is the reason why we took the online platform to discuss the issue,”said Dhanajay Moolya, 42, a resident of Navare nagar, Ambernath (East).

As per the forum, the land on which the dumping activity is carried out belongs to a private party. The civic body is dumping wastes on the plot illegally since last more than 40 years.  The owner of the plot has also approached the court.

“In 2012 a local resident had approached the court against the illegal dumping. However the petition filed did not bring any pressure on the civic body as it was filed by him alone and due to lack of follow up. We are now planning to study the entire matter of the illegal dumping activity and approach the court with the support of that individual,” added Moolya.

The forum has plans to file a petition against the civic body as well as the land owner who is allowing the dumping activity.

About the dump yard :

The dump yard is around  40 years old and the dump’s height is about 40-50 feet now.

Around 125 metric tonnes of wastes are dumped into it on a daily basis. 

The dump yard is located at the Ambernath MIDC pipeline road that helps connect Badlapur, Ambernath , Ulhasnagar and Kalyan  city. 

Garbage is openly dumped into the dump yard by the civic corporation without any segregation and disposal process. 

Thick smoke emitted from the overloaded dump yard throughout the day spreads in the area causing breathing trouble among the residents.

First Published: Mar 18, 2018 00:35 IST