Residents Relocate due to Billowing Smoke from Burning Garbage at Pacchanady Landfill
Mangaluru : Not long ago, on 24 January 2019, a massive fire had started at nearly 5 acres of Pacchanady dumping yard/landfill , in the outskirts of Mangaluru, after the waste there caught fire, and it lasted for couple of days, with smoke spreading across the area, creating health hazards for the nearby residents. Now once again, since Monday, 13 May 2019, the fire personnel have stared an operation to douse the fire at the Pacchanady landfill, and the fire had spread as deep as 22 feet and the services from the Fire Department, Antony Waste Management Cell Ltd, Mangaluru City Corporation, with the help of fire tenders and couple of earth-movers have tossed the trash around and sprayed it with water in an attempt to extinguish the fire. On Monday until Tuesday, the fire only gathered force and tongues of flames could be seen leaping out into the sky. There was thick smoke everywhere and foul smell started dominating the surroundings here. Thick smokes emanating has choked the residents nearby.
Owing to shortage of water supply, the fire personnel were seen dumping soil to extinguish the fire. Even though the huge fire has been doused, this morning (Wednesday) when Team Mangalorean visited the place, at few spots tiny fire flames could be seen, but the smoke hasn’t stopped yet, thereby posing safety hazards to the nearby school children and residents. Dozens of stray dogs and cows, including hundreds of birds were seen feeding on the trash, amidst the smoke. While there is suspicion that some miscreants might have started the fire, but officials from MCC officials and waste management say that the fire is common during summertime, when the trash gets heated up, resulting in flames. Since there is loads of garbage here, chemicals might have got accumulated leading to the creation of gases. Even foul smell pervades the area.
The foul smell of burning plastic and other waste has spread to a radius of more than 20 kms, and people residing nearby have moved into their relatives homes or have made other arrangements for staying. It is learnt that residents of Kudupu, Bikkaranakatte and Tiruvailu, have suffered allergies and developed health problems due to this polluted air. Residents living very close to dump yard are wearing mask to prevent themselves from inhaling toxic air. Senior citizens and children are the worst affected due to this pollution, and to avoid the toxic fumes have moved to their relatives homes living quite far from Pacchanady.
MLA Mangaluru North Dr Bharath Shetty putting the blame on MCC has said that the waste collection and management was not being carried out scientifically, and that many contractors handling the work at the landfill are paid illegally, even though they are not doing their job right. The MLA has directed the MCC officials to dump soil on the waste, so that it could stop the smoke releasing into the air. He also accused MCC for not using the funds allotted for upgrade of this landfill, instead spending money on new roads and drainage.
In response to MLA’s comments, MCC environment engineer Madhu speaking to media said, “Nearly 250-300 tonnes of garbage was collected from the city daily. After sorting, 50 tonnes of waste was dumped at Pacchanady. There is a proposal to increase the capacity of the waste management unit at a cost of Rs 12 crore, however, the approval of the project is still pending. By Wednesday or early Thursday, the fire will be completely doused, and precaution would be taken to stop the release of toxic smoke into the air”.
One resident residing a 1/4 km away from the landfill said, “Apart from this pollution happening since two days, but we face the terrible smell of waste every single day of the year. Even though the landfill is vast, about few acres long, but the trucks dump waste only at few spots, making them a heap of waste, and this results in forming chemicals, leading to fire. Waste should be spread evenly and not dumped at few spots. My wife and children have already moved to the city, while I am still bearing the brunt of this situation- I can’t move since I have three pets at home, and the apartment where my wife and kids have moved don’t allow pets. I only hope MCC comes up with a proper solution to stop such fires happening, and stop the smell emanating from the waste on daily basis”.