Deonar residents protest, demand solution to fire menace

Amid rising health concerns over smog spreading in areas adjacent to the Deonar dumping ground where a fire broke out on Saturday emitting toxic gases, a large number of residents on Tuesday protested at Azad Maidan in Mumbai, demanding an immediate solution to the problem.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), meanwhile, said the fire was brought under control and cooling operation was on at the site. A number of fire fighting teams was engaged to douse the blaze completely, he said. The protesters expressed anger and shock over the 'failure' of civic administration in handling the situation, and demanded the dumping ground to be shut down.

"The entire vicinity has turned into a smog chamber and our lives have become miserable. We have not sent our children to schools for last two days and we don't know what would happen next," an angry resident said. He, however, expressed hope that the civic officials would consider their demands seriously.

Highlighting their concerns, another protester said they demand that BMC find an immediate and permanent solution to the problem. "This is complete apathy from the government side too," she said, adding the government raises the slogan of 'Swachh Bharat' but they are dying to even get some 'swachh air'.

Meanwhile, replying to a query, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta said 12 fire engines, eight water tankers of fire brigade and five of the civic body, one ambulance, a deputy fire officer, an assistant deputy fire officer, a station officer, six poclains, five JCBs and seven dumpers (to lift garbage) were on site and cooling operation was on. The fire, which broke out in Deonar dumping ground emitting toxic gases causing serious health concerns in areas in the eastern suburb, was doused yesterday.

The civic body suspects it to be an act of 'sabotage'. "Prima facie it looks like an act of sabotage and the municipal corporation has filed a case with the police against unknown person," Mehta had earlier told reporters here, adding that previous two fire incidents at the same spot could also be the acts of sabotage.

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.

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