Smog in Mumbai: Deonar fire doused, but smoke still lingers

Jan 31, 2016, 08:49 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

The BMC may have declared that the fire at the Deonar dumping ground has been doused, but smoke bellowed out of the mountains of garbage until Saturday evening. SUNDAY mid-day visited the site to find dumping operations in the ground stalled and the fire brigade struggling to ensure flames did not erupt again. While officials suspect sabotage, locals blamed the way in which trash was dumped haphazardly on the ground, which often leads to fire. Residents of this area have already started having problems of breathing, fever and irritation in the eyes.

Also read: Smog shuts down 74 Mumbai schools for two days

The Deonar dumping ground was engulfed in smoke till Saturday
The Deonar dumping ground was engulfed in smoke till Saturday

A fire had been smouldering at the dumping ground since earlier this week, but it only became noticeable on Thursday, when it started emitting large clouds of smoke. A large amount of garbage was on fire, including carcinogenic plastic. The resultant smog spread over Shivaji Nagar, Deonar, Chembur and Ghatkopar, and also led to a cover of smog in large parts of the city. The contractor in-charge, as well as the BMC, started operations to douse it, however, by Friday, the smoke had spread as far as Dadar and on Saturday, till Mazgaon. About 14 fire engines and eight water tankers were pressed into service. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took cognisance of the smoke and tweeted saying he has directed BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta to bring the situation under control. When SUNDAY mid-day visited the site on Saturday, although the brigade claimed that the fire had been doused, smoke was seen coming out of some mountains of trash.

Also read: Fire at Deonar dumping ground leads to smog in nearby areas

Mustakim Shaikh, who owns a juice stall outside the gate, said, “The smoke is making our lives miserable. Senior citizens, children are the worst off. They can’t step out of their houses.” While one resident Abrar Ahmed said he had to arrange for a breathing pump for a friend, another said they have been suffering for three days. Anjum Khan, 37, said, “I have developed a bad cough from the past three days. My feet and face are bloated. I had fever last night and my eyes are always itchy.”

Official speak

Prakash Patil, Deputy municipal commissioner
Prima facie, it seems the fire was started by miscreants. They were either looking for scrap or must have simply started the fire to trouble us. As of now, we have filed a complaint against unknown persons

Raees Shaikh, SP corporator
Why is it that there are frequent fires at the dumping ground? This should be investigated

A BMC statement
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta is in contact with all the officialson the site. Additional commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh is monitoring the situation. The BMC is trying to control the situation on all levels

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