THE monsoon season has barely passed and there have already been two incidents of fires at the Deonar dumping ground within a week, raising concerns over the condition of the city’s three landfill sites once again. A report prepared by the solid waste management department on the status of the three dumping grounds, which was submitted to the municipal commissioner last week, highlights the increased possibility of similar fires at the Mulund dumping ground as well due to the stoppage of debris dumping since July.
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Currently, the Mulund dumping ground receives around 2,200 metric tonnes of solid waste everyday. The report states that the dumping of debris has been completely stopped since July as debris reduces the resale value of the compost retrieved from the solid waste, which would amount to losses for a contractor. Owing to this reason, contractors were not willing to come forward for the waste-to-energy project and the tendering process has been initiated for the second time.
The report also states that there have been a large number of complaints about the foul smell emanating from the decomposing waste, adding that officials were facing difficulties maintaining the dumping ground as well as the roads. “The waste is decomposing which means methane gas is being released. We are in a fix because if we dump debris then the tender won’t attract bidders. If the temperature rises too high, then, like in Deonar, there may be fires at Mulund dumping ground as well,” said an official from the SWM department.
Meanwhile, the maintenance work has been slow at the Deonar dumping ground while the Rs 1,000 crore waste-to-energy project’s tender began just last week. Since July, the civic body has only managed to repair the boundary wall while the tendering process for the CCTV cameras, watch towers, security cabins and bulldozers, which has been going on since July, is yet to be completed.
The seven-member committee appointed by the Bombay High Court has also raised concerns about the delay during their monthly meetings with the SWM department. “We take these meetings every month and very little has changed in the compliance reports the SWM department prepares. In so many months, they have only managed to repair the boundary wall and haven’t even put the barbed wire. Their tendering process has been initiated multiple times in the past months since they are not getting enough bidders. The work is happening at a very slow pace when it should have been done on an emergency basis and will possibly not be completed even by the deadline of June 30 next year given by the High Court,” said Rajkumar Sharma, a resident of Chembur and one of the members of the committee.
Another member, not wishing to be named, pointed out that the SWM department was not following the suggestions made by the committee members either. “Since the BMC’s plan for strengthening the security in the area did not sound convincing, one of the members had recommended that the SWM department consult with a particular government-run agency for inputs and come up with a better plan. But the civic officials haven’t done anything,” he said.
The member added that the BMC’s lackadaisical attitude towards the maintenance of the dumping grounds has been discussed in the meetings and some members feel that it should be included in the final report which is to be submitted to the High Court next month.