Fresh Deonar blaze leaves residents fuming

21 Mar 2016


A fire that broke out at Mumbai's Deonar dumping ground in the eastern suburbs of the city on Saturday evening continued to smoulder on Monday, emitting toxic smoke in the city's air.

About 95 per cent of the fire has been brought under control, authorities said, as 10 fire engines battled the blaze. This is the second massive fire in the area in less than two months.

The fire intensified on Sunday evening and spread over two to three square kilometres. As toxic smoke engulfed the area, residents complained of discomfort and breathing problems.

 Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar promised stern action. "We are sending special teams to the site. They will give a full report within a week. Whoever is responsible will not be spared," he said.

 In many schools in the area, children appearing for their exams were seen wearing masks. "Our children can't breathe," a resident of the Deonar area said. "My child's respiratory problems have escalated in the last two months."

A massive fire had broken out at the city's biggest dumping yard, spread across 326 acres, on 27 January. It was brought under control after seven days of round-the-clock fire-fighting.

Government schools in central Mumbai's Shivaji Nagar and Deonar were closed for two days due to thick smog caused by the fire.

Experts blame the lack of a waste management policy and crammed dumping yards in Mumbai's municipalities for the Deonar fire.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had on 2 February promised to take steps to tackle the problem of recurring fire at the dumping ground. He had said two fire engines would be stationed at Deonar, but residents of the area say on 19 March, when the fire broke out, they had to call fire officials to alert them.

Civic authorities in the city have said that they have taken steps to remove encroachments around the Deonar dumping ground. "Security has been tightened to stop people from igniting garbage," an official said.

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