New Delhi: On Monday (June 12) afternoon, a massive fire broke out at the Ghazipur dumpsite (commonly known as landfill), one of the three garbage mountains in Delhi. As quoted by news agency ANI, according to the press release by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the fire broke out at around 1:30-1:45 PM in the afternoon and soon began to spread due to strong winds. “MCD quickly responded to the situation and 8-10 fire tenders from the Delhi Fire Department and 13-14 excavators and 4-5 bulldozers working at the landfill site were pressed into action to control the fire,” added the release.
VIDEO | Fire breaks out at the Ghazipur landfill site in Delhi. More details are awaited. pic.twitter.com/v26LntFS4e
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 12, 2023
The MCD believes that the cause of the fire was the generation of methane gas coupled with high temperature in the national capital Delhi. However, it was controlled using inert material.
Spread across 72 acres of land, Ghazipur, the oldest dumpsite in Delhi, was commissioned in 1984 and crossed the permissible height of 20m in 2002. It has been overflowing since then and stands at around 40 meters, as per the MCD. As per the data received from the MCD, 140 lakh tonnes of legacy waste has been dumped on the Ghazipur site as of July 2019.
5 Reasons Why Landfills Catch Fire:
- In an interview with NDTV, Ashok Kumar Jaiswal, Divisional Officer, Delhi Fire Services said, “It is summer time and decomposition of organic waste amid heat often leads to chemical reactions and generation of gases like carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide. Frankly, during the summer season, landfills catch fire automatically. Yesterday, we managed to douse the fire with the help of 13 fire tenders.”
- Ghazipur landfill is technically a dumpsite, a mere piece of land where waste is being dumped recklessly. Dr. Richa Singh, Deputy Programme Manager, MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) team, Centre for Science and Environment explains, “While sanitary landfills are scientific structures or containment systems which are engineered and constructed in a way to isolate waste from the surrounding environment, dumpsites are mere pieces of land without any mechanism for pollution control.”
- Dr Singh adds that sanitary landfills have barriers of high-density polyethylene and mechanisms to collect and treat leachate (contaminated liquid generated when water percolates through waste), alongwith the ability to collect landfill gas, which primarily consists of methane and treat that as well.
- “Living around dump sites comes with health challenges as people in close vicinity are exposed to gases like the colourless and odorless Methane, trace gases like H2S (Hydrogen Sulfide), as well as high levels of Particulate Matter and Ammonia,” says Dr. Singh. These gases are carcinogenic in nature. Long-term exposure to these gases can result in respiratory disorders, and at times it can lead to cancer as well.
- On dumpsites, while biodegradable or wet waste decomposes over time, the anaerobic decomposition (breakdown of organic waste in the absence of oxygen) of organic waste generates methane gas, which is flammable and generates heat. That’s the reason why dumpsites in Delhi, especially in summer, often catch fire. If not fire, then these are always smoldering in patches.
To prevent such fire outbreaks, Dr Singh recommends an interim solution (till the remediation of all the legacy waste is done) which includes,
A gas collection and treatment system for landfill gases. Moreover, landfilling of biodegradable and combustible waste should not be done in the first place to prevent the leachate and landfill gas issue.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.