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Perungudi Fire: Chennai Lake Near Landfill Turns Pink Days After Massive Fire

A huge fire broke out on the night of 27 April in the 225-acre Perungudi dumpyard which took three days to fade.

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India
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Residents in Chennai’s Perungudi have a new cause for alarm. Just days after the massive fire in the dumpyard in the locality was doused, the lake adjoining the landfill has turned pink.

Situated next to the 200-feet Radial Road, the pink-coloured lake has now become a ‘photo booth’ to passers-by.

G Janardhan, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), says that the “pink lake” phenomenon is due to the presence of cyanobacteria.

“This is an algal bloom, usually found in water bodies that are contaminated with methane as a result of industrial waste being dumped into the water. But here we don’t have any industries, still the colour of the water turned pink because of the leachate," Janardhan explained.
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"This happened two years back also. Our team members will soon collect samples to study and analyse the impact,” he added.

His team from NITTTR has been researching the Perungudi dumpyard for more than a decade to understand the land characteristic changes.

'Dumpyard Has Destroyed the Marshland', Says Environmentalist

A huge fire broke out on the night of 27 April in the 225-acre Perungudi dumpyard which took three days to fade.

The lake water has turned pink due to methane contamination.

(Photo: TNM/Bharathy Singaravel)

“Cyanobacteria is a polluter as well as an indicator of pollution. We dump waste in marshlands and when the waste gets composted with the low level oxygen it produces methane. Cyanobacteria consumes methane and thrives in water bodies,” says environmentalist Nithyanand Jayaraman.

“We don’t have to wait for a waterbody to turn pink to know the degradation of the ecosystem. The dumpyard has already destroyed the entire marshland,” he adds.

Cyanobacterial Algal Bloom

Cyanobacterial algal bloom on the surface reduces the oxygen level in a waterbody. It blocks sunlight from reaching the flora and fauna. Without sufficient sunlight, plants cannot grow properly and living organisms in the water will starve to death. An algal bloom can be harmful when it releases toxins into the air and water. High concentration levels of such toxins are dangerous to the environment as well as to human beings.

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Background

After a huge fire broke out on the night of 27 April in the 225-acre Perungudi dumpyard, it took three days of struggle for the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) to extinguish the flames.

The municipal dumpyard was overflowing with around 3.63 million cubic metres of waste when the incident took place.

Thick toxic fumes from the burning garbage spread over a 6 km radius, affecting residents in several parts of the city, including Velachery, Besant Nagar, Adambakkam, Guindy and others.

(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)

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Topics:  Chennai   Fire Breaks Out   Fire break out 

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