Deonar fire doused, Mumbai civic body suspects sabotage

The fire that broke out in Deonar dumping ground on Saturday emitting toxic gases causing serious health concerns in areas in Eastern suburb was doused on Monday, which the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) suspects to be an act of 'sabotage'.

Deonar fireThe fire which broke out at Deonar. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

"Prima facie it looks like an act of sabotage and the municipal corporation has filed a case with the police against unknown person," Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta told reporters in Mumbai, adding that previous two fire incidents at the same spot could also be the acts of sabotage. He said the blaze, which has been raging since Saturday, was extinguished this morning and cooling operations are on at the site.

The latest fire was third such incident at the largest dumping facility in the city since January.

Mehta said in a bid to overcome the menace, wherein such incidents occurring frequently at the Deonar facility, the entire 132 hectare area would be declared as 'prohibited zone' and the night vision cameras would be installed there.

Deonar fireThe Chembur-Govandi-Mankhurd belt was covered with thick poisonous smog. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Meanwhile, Union Environment Ministry has taken a serious note of the blaze which gave rise to environmental concerns resulting into poor air quality. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said a two-member special team will be sent to investigate the incident.

Mehta said the MCGM wants a permanent solution to such incidents. "We want restricted and disciplined entry into the premises (of dumping ground) and hence we have decided to declare the entire area as prohibited zone," he said.

Listing various measures by the municipal corporation to prevent recurrence of such incidents, Mehta said, "We have started constructing a fence around the ground and have beefed up our own security apart from installing 12 CCTV cameras. We would additionally install 40 CCTV cameras with the night mode vision. We have upped our deployment from 102 to 150 security personnel in three batches," he said.

Deonar fireThe smog at Deonar. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Mehta said MCGM has started the implementation of 'slope stabilisation' to rule out the chances of fire and six hectares of the total area has been covered so far. "We had asked IIT and NIRI to look into the problem of fire in the (dumping) ground and received their report two days back. Now, we are in process of going through the report and implement it," he said.

Mehta said that 10 fire engines would remain stationed at the ground in a standby mode. Even as cooling operations are underway at the dumping yard, toxic smoke engulfed Govandi's Shivaji Nagar, some parts of Mankhurd and Zakir Hussain Nagar and Baiganwadi area, causing discomfort to locals. Mehta said the civic body is committed to find the long-term solution to such fire incidents. "We have appointed Tata Consultancy Engineers as our consultant and (further) action would taken up according to their recommendations," he said.

On January 27, a massive fire had broken out at the dumping yard, spread over 326 acres, leading to a thick blanket of smog in various parts of Mumbai, and lasted one week before it could be put out completely.

After the incident, the civic body installed 12 CCTV cameras at the ground and started erecting a boundary wall around it. Another blaze had erupted in middle of February. Deonar is one of the biggest dumping grounds in Mumbai and the quantity of garbage ending up there has only increased down the year.

The facility is surrounded by the Thane creek on three sides and slums on the fourth. Every day, 3000 tonne of waste is dumped on the ground which currently has 12 million tonne of debris strewn across.

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