Mumbai: Latest fire at Deonar act of sabotage, claims civic chief

Mar 22, 2016, 07:28 IST | Varun Singh

Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta says the administration had taken adequate measures to prevent such mishaps. He also informs that the entry to the ground will be restricted

Citing the latest fire incident at Deonar dumping ground, where authorities are still struggling to douse the blaze that started on Friday, Samajwadi Party (SP) corporator from Govandi, Rais Shaikh, accused the BMC of lackadaisical approach despite the fact that a major fire had already broken out at the dumping ground in January. He even alleged that the civic body had failed to implement slope stabilisation method and scatter debris on the garbage.

Also Read: Deonar fire: Smoke drives locals out of their homes

Locals take stock of the fire. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Locals take stock of the fire. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

On the other hand, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta claimed that the fire was an act of sabotage because the administration had taken adequate measures to prevent such mishaps. Mehta went to the extent of saying that entry inside the dumping ground would be monitored and the authorities would soon frame guidelines for the same.

Reacting to Mehta’s claim, Shaikh accused the civic administration of indirectly blaming the poor ragpickers for the fire mishaps at the dumping ground. He said, “Suggestions were made to implement slope stabalisation method of the plateaued waste for easy escape of methane gas into the atmosphere or curbing its release by dumping debris onto the waste. Only files have moved; the ground reality remains the same. BMC is yet to implement concrete measures to curb fires at the dumping ground.”

Read Story: Deonar fire: Wear masks, stay indoors, says health advisory

Speaking to mid-day, Mehta claimed they have been scattering debris across the dumping ground for the last three months.

“Debris is being dumped to prevent methane gas from escaping. We have been doing this on a regular basis and have already covered six hectares.”

He added that an FIR has been lodged against an unidentified miscreant for starting the second fire. Mehta said guidelines would soon be framed to restrict access to the dumping ground.

Expert speak
Supreeth MJ, who handles Solid Waste Management projects, said ragpickers are of help rather than a nuisance. “They clear plastic and other items that aid fire. Also, scattering debris over the garbage is a bad idea because it will prevent methane gas from escaping.”

Securing Deonar
Measures listed out by Ajoy Mehta to secure Deonar dumping ground:
>> Deploying 150 guards
>> Digging two borewells 
>> Installation of 40 night-vision cameras 
>> Declaring dumping ground a prohibited area 
>> Keeping 10 fire tenders outside the dumping ground on stand-by 
>> Building roads inside the dump yard to provide easy access to fire tenders

12 million tonnes
Amount of garbage at Deonar dumping ground

132 hectares
Total area of the dumping ground


Short bytes: Ajoy Mehta

Q. What do you mean when you say rules will be framed for entry inside the Deonar dumping ground?

A. There should be no free entry inside the dumping ground. We will frame rules for who can enter the dumping ground. We have decided that the dumping ground will be declared a prohibited area.

Ajoy Mehta, BMC Commissioner
Ajoy Mehta, BMC Commissioner

Q. What action has been taken?
A. An FIR has been registered against unknown people. We suspect that this is a case of sabotage. I had a talk with the commissioner of police, who said he is going to look into it.

Q. There are allegations that the administration isn’t doing much.
A. In the last three months, we have covered almost six hectares of area with debris. We have decided to deal with garbage now in a scientific method and landfill will be stopped completely.

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