Yet again! Bhalswa landfill catches fire, Delhi minister Gopal Rai seeks report from DPCC

Delhi: 27 April, 2022 (Times of India)


NEW DELHI: A fire broke out at the Bhalswa landfill on Tuesday evening. Around 14 fire tenders were rushed to the location and the extinguishing operation continued late into the night. This was the first blaze of the season at the Bhalswa landfill, after fires twice broke out at the Ghazipur landfill and firefighting continued for over a day to douse the flames that had spread over a wide expanse.

Atul Garg, director, Delhi Fire Service, said a call was received around 6pm about the fire. “So far, the cause of the fire hasn’t been confirmed but usually such fires are self-ignited because the waste material is combustible, especially when the weather is dry and very hot,” said Garg.

Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai directed Delhi Pollution Control Committee to investigate the fire at Bhalswa and submit a report within 24 hours.

North Delhi Municipal Corporation mayor Raja Iqbal Singh said that an inquiry would be conducted in the matter, but ruled out any foul play.

A senior corporation official claimed that the team at the landfill swung into action as soon as the fire was reported. “The fire was discovered at the rear of the landfill where fresh waste is being dumped. This is a 5-6 acre area. Our staff got into action as soon as the small fire erupted at the place,” the official said. “However, due to continuous release of methane from the fresh waste, the fire spread over a large area. We immediately engaged 20 vehicles to dump inert material at the site and create a barrier between the methane and the oxygen. Our vehicles worked in this manner in addition to the eight fire tenders and north corporation bulldozers deputed here. We will continue the operation through the whole night if required.”

Civic officials said that the anaerobic decomposition (breakdown of organic waste in the absence of oxygen) of garbage generates methane gas and heat. “As soon as the gas comes in contact with oxygen, the combustible material at the dumpsite catches fire,” said one official.

The area where the fire broke out was on a slope so the vehicles faced some problems reaching the blaze site and carrying out extinguishing operations. “Our vehicles had to dump the inert material from the top of the landfill site,” revealed the official. There are around 80 lakh tonnes of waste lying at the landfill. The corporation is taking various measures to process the legacy waste. Recently, two major fires were reported at the Ghazipur landfill, which too struggles with the same problems of combustible waste and methane generation.