Home / News / India /  Delhi: Bhalswa fire releases toxic chemicals; locals demand landfill removal

Locals residing near Delhi's Bhalswa landfill site said they are facing breathing issues and have demanded a permanent solution to the frequent fires, which often rage for days at a stretch. Yesterday, the Bhalswa landfill site caught fire in the afternoon and since today, plumes of smoke have continued to emanate from the site.

Earlier in April, dense plumes of smoke kept billowing out from the site after a fire broke out on April 26 and firefighters battled to douse the flames for six consecutive days.

"I have been living here for the last 20 years and have been seeing this from that time. No changes happened in this landfill. We are facing many problems like breathing and coughing. etc. We want a permanent solution for this," a local resident said.

Another local said, "Houses are barely a kilometre away from the site. Our eyes hurt, it gets difficult to breathe and the heat rises too. Fire breaks out here every year from April to June. Diseases spread too. We want this landfill removed from here."

Dense plumes of smoke were seen rising in the sky, exacerbating the already polluted air during the fire in April.

People living near the yard say that the smoke enters their rooms during the fires due to which they face several health issues.

"I have been here for the last 20 years. The Bhalswa dump area is very close to my house. When I open my window I can see the landfill. We are facing breathing problems due to this all people are getting sick. Diseases like malaria and dengue are spreading. At the time of the fire, the smoke hits the house," said another local.

Separately, the Delhi government has prepared a nine-point action plan to prevent incidents of fire at landfill sites in the national capital.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi officials have been asked to study a system installed in Mumbai to capture methane from the rotting waste and replicate it in the national capital to prevent fires at landfill sites.

The wet waste dumped in a landfill produces methane when it rots. In hot weather conditions, methane catches fire spontaneously and the blaze spreads as it feeds on combustible materials like textiles and plastics. As part of the action plan, perforated high-density polyethylene pipes will be installed at the landfill sites to prevent the accumulation of highly flammable methane gas.

As per the Delhi government's action plan, vehicles engaged at the landfill sites will be fitted with spark arrestors to trap hot exhaust particles from combustion engines.

Besides, ragpickers will be banned and a four-metre-high boundary wall will be built to prevent unauthorised entries into the landfills, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority will develop a standard operating procedure to prevent fire incidents.

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