Delhi

Smoke continues to rise from Ghazipur landfill site, politicking ensues: Video

Thick plumes of smoke continued to rise at the Ghazipur landfill site even over 24 hours after a fire broke out there, leaving the locals gasping for breath and triggering a political blame game with the BJP accusing the AAP-led MCD of "criminal negligence".

New Delhi: Thick plumes of smoke continued to rise at the Ghazipur landfill site even over 24 hours after a fire broke out there, leaving the locals gasping for breath and triggering a political blame game with the BJP accusing the AAP-led MCD of “criminal negligence”.

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The Delhi government on Monday directed its environment department to submit a detailed report on the causes of the fire and an action plan to prevent similar incidents at such sites in the summer.

In a late night statement, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) said 90 per cent of the fire has been extinguished and around 40-50 small isolated flames remain in the 3,000 sqm area which saw the fire.

The civic body said it has adopted a two-pronged approach to extinguish the fire — use of inert and construction and demolition (C&D) waste to choke the fire, and using fire tenders to douse the flames.

“Around 600 MT of inert and C&D waste was used to extinguish the fire. Sixteen excavators, two bulldozers and six fire tenders were pressed into service to stamp out the fire. Sprinklers are continually working to ensure that no dust or ash is spread in the neighbourhood,” the statement said.

“It is hoped that the fire will be extinguished completely in the night today. Men and machinery are continuously working in this direction,” it added.

The fire broke out at the landfill site in east Delhi on Sunday evening.

Officials cited hot and dry weather conditions as the likely trigger for the fire.

Police have registered an FIR against unidentified persons in the matter.

According to police, a case under Indian Penal Code sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health) has been registered at Ghazipur police station and a probe has begun.

Mayor Shelly Oberoi said the MCD will launch an inquiry into the incident.

Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva alleged that the AAP-led MCD’s “criminal negligence” is responsible for the fire even as Oberoi, who visited the site, said this is not the time for politics.

Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely also underlined the need to cast aside petty politics and said all stakeholders should join hands to douse the landfill fire as it has been causing serious air pollution and health problems for the people.

In an order issued earlier in the day, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai directed the principal secretary, environment and forests, to submit a report on the cause of the fire within 48 hours.

Rai directed the principal secretary that the report should cover all aspects related to the cause of the fire and immediate steps taken by various agencies to counter it.

“During the previous years, such fire incidents were also reported. After visiting the sites, I have issued various directions to prevent such incidents in future.

“Subsequently, the department issued some guidelines to various agencies responsible for preventing and combating such incidents. A report should be collected from all concerned regarding the compliance of such guidelines by all concerned agencies,” the order said.

It also sought details of the department’s action plan to prevent such incidents at all landfill sites in Delhi during the summer.

Earlier in the day, Ram Kumar from Gharoli village, which is close to the landfill site, said, “It has been 15 hours since the fire broke out. This is not any regular smoke, it is very poisonous. We are unable to keep our eyes open due to irritation and are experiencing difficulty in breathing.”

Several locals told PTI that due to the smoke, they were not able to send their children to school. They accused the MCD and the city government of not taking any action to ensure a better life for them.

A local resident, Ilyas Khan, said, “It has been 15 years. Ministers visit us only during elections. But after that not a single one of them returns to find out if we are facing any problems. This landfill is a curse for us. We are forced to suffer foul smells every day. And now this fire has caused several health problems for us. Why do they (ministers) want us to die?”

Rakesh Kumar, who suffers from cardiac ailments, said he had to move to his relative’s place because he could not bear the suffocation any longer. “It is not just me, several people are leaving their homes due to the same reason,” he said.

Bilkis, another resident, said the landfill still sits where it does because politicians never fulfilled their promises. “Now they will be here again, showing their concern just to take votes. Nothing will happen,” she said.

Mehfuz said when he purchased a house in the area around 20 years ago, the landfill wasn’t this high. “Why is the government not able to find any proper solution? We are even unable to send our children to school due to the smoke,” he said.

Ahead of the 2022 MCD elections, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had promised to clear the landfill site by December 31, 2023.

In 2019, the height of the Ghazipur landfill was 65 metres, only eight metres less than the Qutub Minar. In 2017, a portion of the garbage at the dumping yard fell on an adjacent road, killing two people.

Three incidents of fire were reported at the Ghazipur landfill in 2022, one of which, on March 28, took more than 50 hours to be doused.

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