Citizens in Boragaon area of Guwahati have raised concerns on an uncontrolled fire incident at Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) dumping site at Paschim Boragaon in the city, which reportedly is burning since last 7 days.
A panicked Pramod Kalita, a conservation activist working on conservation of the Deepor Beel Ramsar Site and a local of the area, said: “The tonnes and tonnes of legacy waste dumped untreated at the old dumping site of GMC at Paschim Boragaon is on fire since the past six days. The dark smoke emitting is spreading to all nearby areas as the wind blows. We are worried about the health of the residents and this sensitive ecosystem.”
Sushil Teron, another resident has also expressed his concern and alleged the Guwahati Municipal Corporation of causing the fire deliberately as the corporation has failed to take any scientific measure to treat the legacy waste. “Had the GMC not started the fire themselves; they should have taken steps to douse it. We are all aware of the poisonous gas emitted when a garbage dump burns, and this is a huge dump,” he said.
The GMC has stopped the transfer of solid waste to this old garbage disposal site at Paschim Boragaon on June 28, 2021. The said site has been locked since, but there has been no visible step for the scientific treatment of the legacy waste.
The Guwahati Development Department had issued administrative approval for Rs 172.5 crore for biomining of the legacy waste accumulated at this Paschim Boragaon site. Reportedly a tender was floated and GMC was undertaking the evaluation of the technical bids. However, there have been no further updates on the measures undertaken.
“What happened to the approved money. Is GMC burning waste or burning the Rs 172.5 crore? Will any proper measure ever be taken?” questioned a furious Kalita.
Reportedly, the flames on the legacy waste have been blazing non-stop for the past week.
GMC had previously stated that the treatment of the legacy waste at the old site had started in January 2021. Till earlier this year, 2 lakh metric tonnes of legacy waste have been treated.
“The content with high calorific value is supplied to the cement factory. It is a continuous process,” the corporation had stated.
A senior official of the corporation, upon enquiry, said that the fire was caused due to the methane gas produced from such waste, and is a common occurrence. He said that fire tenders have been sent to douse the fire.
However, the fire and emergency services have denied sending any fire brigade to the old dumping ground at Paschim Boragaon or even receiving any call from GMC.
The attitude of the corporation towards the sensitive ecosystem of the Deepor Beel wetland and the health hazards posed by the un-scientific treatment of waste to the people have irked the locals.
At present, the solid waste is transferred to another place at Belortol in West Boragaon from August 10, 2021.
The Deepor Beel Suraksha Mancha will be staging a road blockade near the new site on May 17 to protest against the un-scientific methods of waste disposal by the GMC. Unfortunately, locals of the neighbouring areas of the new site have also been complaining of fetid smell and the corporation’s failure to address the issue.