Abu Asim Azmi is in a conundrum. The Samajwadi Party MLA from Mankhurd Shivaji Nagar has asked his party workers to stop all garbage vans from entering the Deonar dumping ground even as his firm — Gulf Hotel — along with two others, holds the contract to collect and dispose of garbage from three wards, a large chunk of which ends up at Deonar.
Abu Azmi takes on garbage vans outside the Deonar dumping ground on Tuesday
On Tuesday, Azmi, flanked by hundreds of supporters and son Farhan Azmi, took out a protest in Deonar, demanding an end to unplanned dumping of waste at the Deonar ground. The protesters also stopped garbage vehicles from entering the dumping ground.
Asked about his company’s contract, he claimed to be in the dark over where his garbage pick-up trucks dump the waste. “My company only supplies the vehicles to collect garbage.”
Pressed on whether his company’s vehicles dump garbage at Deonar, he said, “Is anyone listening? Everyone is dumping garbage here. I don’t know where the garbage (lifted under the contract bagged by the consortium of three companies) is dumped. I am only the bank guarantor [in the consortium], but my demand is that garbage should not dumped at Deonar… Let Colaba’s garbage be dumped in Colaba.”
Azmi’s firm and two other companies had bagged a five-year contract for Rs 168 crore in 2013 to collect garbage from three wards — H/East, K/East and K/West. While most of the waste from the latter two wards is dumped in the eastern suburbs, garbage lifted in larger trucks from H/East finds its way to the Deonar dumping ground.
A senior BMC officer scoffs at Azmi’s ignorance. “He bagged a huge contract with the BMC, along with others, to dump garbage at Deonar and other grounds. And one of the wards under the consortium’s jurisdiction dumps its waste at Deonar. If Azmi claims he’s not allowing vehicles to dump garbage at the ground in Deonar, then where is he dumping the waste from his own vehicles?”
The piles of garbage at the Deonar dumping ground had caught fire on Saturday night, the second such incident in three months. Millions of litres of drinking water were used to douse the blaze.