Ghazipur landfill fire sparks political slugfest between AAP, BJP

| | New Delhi
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Ghazipur landfill fire sparks political slugfest between AAP, BJP

Tuesday, 23 April 2024 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

A political slugfest erupted on Monday over the Ghazipur landfill fire incident with the BJP attacking AAP-led MCD over the blaze which left local residents gasping for breath and racked with other health issues.  Delhi cabinet minister Atishi said the incident will be investigated to ascertain its cause. Meanwhile, plumes of thick, dark smoke continued to rise from the Ghazipur landfill site in the national capital on Monday, hours after a major fire broke out there last evening.Several residents living close to the landfill complained about breathing difficulties and irritation in the eyes and throat. Delhi Minister Gopal Rai directed its environment department to submit a detailed report on the causes of fire at the Ghazipur landfill site and the action plan to prevent similar incidents at such sites in the summer season. The order issued by Delhi Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai directed the principal secretary of environment and forests to submit the report within 48 hours.

 A major fire broke out at the landfill site in east Delhi on Sunday evening. Officials cited hot and dry weather conditions as the likely trigger for the fire.  Police have registered an FIR against unidentified persons.

 According to police, a case under section 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health) has been registered at Ghazipur Police Station and a probe has begun.

 Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva visited the site and charged it was an example of “corruption” of the AAP government.

“The Ghazipur garbage dump is a direct example of corruption by the Kejriwal government. They had promised to remove this mountain of garbage by 2023 but another has risen here. This is because of the MCD’s corruption. More than half of the machines are non functional. Why were they not repaired?” Sachdeva said. “It will be removed within a year after the day BJP forms government in Delhi,” he added.

AAP councilor and mayor Shelly Oberoi, who also went to the site, said this is not the time for politics.  On Sunday, deputy mayor Aaley Mohammad Iqbal had also visited the site.

 A wall made of tin panels marking the boundary of the landfill also fell as a portion of garbage broke away. The several metres long wall was erected on the poultry market side. “It has been 15 hours since the fire broke out. This smoke is not any common smoke, it is very poisonous. We are unable to keep our eyes open due to irritation and are experiencing difficulty in breathing,” Ram Kumar from Gharoli village, close to the landfill, said.

 Several residents said that due to the smoke they were not able to send their children to school. They accused the MCD and the city government of not taking any action to give a better life to them.

 “It has been 15 years. Ministers visit us only during elections. But after that not a single one returns to our door to know if we are facing any problem. This landfill is a curse for us. We are forced to suffer foul smells every day. And now this fire has caused several health problems for us. Why do they (ministers) want us to die?” Ilayas Khan said.

 Rakesh Kumar, a heart patient, said he had to move to his relative’s place because he could not bear the suffocation any longer.  “And this is not only my condition, several people are leaving their house due to the same reason,” he said.  Bilkis, another resident, said the landfill still sits where it does because politicians never fulfilled their promises.

 “Now they will be here again, showing their concern just to take votes. Nothing will happen,” she said.  Mehfuz said when he purchased a house in the area around 20 years ago, the landfill wasn’t this high.  “There was nothing such as this huge landfill now. Why is the government not able to find any proper solution? We are even unable to send our children to school due to smoke,” he said.

 Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had, ahead of the 2022 MCD election, promised to clear the landfill site by December 31, 2023.  All the same, the mountain of garbage continues to grow.

 In 2019, the height of the Ghazipur landfill was 65 metres, only eight metres less than the Qutub Minar.  In 2017, a portion of the garbage at the dumping yard fell on an adjacent road, killing two people.  Three incidents of fire were reported at the Ghazipur landfill in 2022, one of which, on March 28, took more than 50 hours to be doused.

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