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Bandhwari Landfill Fire: Citizen Groups Urge Action Over Waste Mismanagement

Municipal bodies in Gurugram and Faridabad dump over 1,000 tonnes of untreated garbage at the site every day.

Published
India
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The Bandhwari landfill, located in the Aravalli forest, was set ablaze on Sunday, 11 July and despite extinguishing operations, the fire that broke out around noon two days ago continues to rage.</p></div>
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The Bandhwari landfill, located in the Aravalli forest, was set ablaze on Sunday, 11 July and despite extinguishing operations, the fire that broke out around noon two days ago continues to rage.

The burning of landfills is a common occurrence, owing to a rise in temperatures and a build up of toxic gases released by the waste.

Over 7 years ago, a fire incident rendered the Bandhwari waste management plant defunct, leading municipal bodies in Gurugram and Faridabad to dump over 1,000 tonnes of untreated garbage at the site every day – a practice that continues even today.

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Continued Mismanagement of Waste

On Monday evening, members of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Group and Citizens for Clean Air, held a demonstration outside the site, protesting against the gross 'mismanagement of waste' in these areas.

In a press release, the direct action groups stated,

“Citizens are extremely concerned at the massive impact on all life in this region that this toxic landfill is impacting. Village residents nearby from Bandhwari have already been reporting multiple cases of dangerous life threatening diseases like cancer and deaths over the last few years. Now toxic smoke blowing in their direction is posing an extremely elevated threat to their health.”
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Around 2.5 million tonnes of legacy waste is presently rotting in the landfill. Some heaps are as high as 37 metres, HT reported.

Further, Anu PD from the Aravalli Bachao citizens group brought attention to the fact that the forest area, a critical water recharge and wildlife habitat in the NCR is severely endangered by these fires – with it's flora and fauna bound to get adversely impacted due to the common disasters.

Government Action Necessary

Urging governmental action in the matter, Chandra Mouli Basu, a film maker and Aravalli Bachao campaigner said further,

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"We can still see the fire in the landfill at 6:00 pm, 30 hours after the landfill caught fire on Sunday 11 July. There needs to be an enquiry as to how this fire started. A fire department probe could reveal if this fire has been set deliberately. Often these fires are caused by trapped methane which is generated when food waste is dumped.”

He added that if decentralised composting and production of biogas is strictly implemented in over half (60 per cent) of the wet and dry waste recovery centres in Gurgaon and Faridabad, the total volume of waste would come decrease by almost 80 percent, eliminating the need for a landfill.

This, in turn, would also bring down emissions of methane - which is one of the primary contributors of green house effect, and is around 80 times more potent that carbon dioxide.

WTE Plant & The Danger They Pose

To exacerbate the seriousness of the ecological issue, the authorities have been asked to clear a 10 acre patch within the landfill site to set up a waste to energy (WTE) plant.

WTE plants have often fallen short of serving the purpose they are designed for.

"To start with, properly segregated waste that is dry is required in large volumes to keep a WTE plant functional. Some countries have had to actually import such waste to keep these plants running," Basu stated.

Jyoti Raghavan from the Aravalli Bachao citizens group asserted that burning mix waste, such as wet food waste with other debris results in a huge deal of toxic emissions of furans, dioxins, etc which are lethal for human health.

"Further, the smoke that these plants emit is highly toxic and the pollution from the proposed WTE plant will continue to pollute the air on a regular basis. The ash that is produced by these plants is also extremely toxic that will pollute our air, water bodies and ground water further," she added.

On Sunday, Assistant Fire officer Rajesh Kumar had informed that ten fire tenders, five from Gurugram and five from Faridabad, were pressed into action. Also, around 40 fire personnel were present at the spot to control the blaze.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times and IANS)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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