Even as the fire at the dumping ground was controlled, residents of the area felt breathing problems and irritation in the eyes due to the smoke that had engulfed the area. The residents of Dadumajra stated that they felt sick due to the heavy smoke but feared to go to the hospital due to COVID-19.
Officials of Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee stated that the air quality deteriorated and had gone from satisfactory to moderate since Tuesday.
Dyal Krishan, chairman, Dadu Majra Dumping Site Joint Action Committee, said, “Last night many residents of the surrounding areas reported problems like difficulty in breathing, choking of throat, irritation in eyes, chest congestion and many had sleepless night. We wanted them to go to hospital, but they refused to go due to fear of attracting Covid infection as well.”
He added, “We have never seen such type of fire in the past. The colour of flames and the emanating smell was different as if many toxic hazardous materials and hospital waste were on fire. This nightmare is going to stay in the minds of local residents for years to come.”
The Joint Action Committee of Dadumajra Dumping Site on Wednesday requested heads of city residents’ welfare federations to visit them and see their plight.
Vinod Vashisht, convener of CFORWO (City Forum of Residents Welfare Organisations), said, “Ever since MC has taken over the reins of Dadumajra waste processing plant (city’s only waste processing facility) from the Jaypee group in June 2020, solid waste processing has further suffered.”
He added, “Unless waste processing plant is made to function at its optimal capacity and efficiency, how can the city breathe in fresh air? Solid waste incineration at high temperature (1000 degrees centigrade) thermax furnace of the plant has not been functioning for the last over six months.”
“We cannot get rid of highly toxics like furan and dioxin which are highly harmful for humans without scientifically processing them. Corporation should get the plant repaired on a war footing and make it run to fullest capacity so only non-recyclable and inert waste go to the dump site and remaining 85-90% waste is processed,” the members felt.
Baljinder Singh Bittu, chairman of FOSWAC (Federation of Sectors Welfare Association Chandigarh), said: “How long can we keep on suffering with such apathy to residents of Chandigarh? If other cities can do solid waste processing, who is holding our city from doing that? Shortly, we will have another meeting by inviting a select group of RWAs and experts. If need be, our federation will knock at the doors of the High Court and National Green Tribunal.”
Major D P Singh, patron of CRAWFED (Chandigarh Residents Association Welfare Federation), specified how residents of all nearby sectors such as 14, 24, 25, 37, 38, 38W, 39 and surrounding colonies felt the smoke.
“We all are disturbed by the last night’s fire incident at the dump site. Such health hazards should be permanently stopped so that city residents can lead peaceful healthy lives,” he said.
Dr P S Bhatti, former MOH of Chandigarh who also visited the site, said, “As the plant’s capacity has been reduced, only 50 MT of MSW is being processed. The rest of the 550 MT of MSW of 26 wards of Chandigarh is directly thrown in the dumping ground. The methane gas is constantly generated in the dump of unprocessed garbage of thousands of tonnes, leading to frequent fires. It is an emergency because the people living in Daddu Majra, Dhanas and adjoining areas are directly affected.”
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