Chandigarh: No lessons learnt, another blaze at Dadu Majra dump

The Tribune

6 fire engines used; people complain of breathing problems

The city Municipal Corporation seems to have learnt no lessons from last year’s massive fire that continued for three days at the Dadu Majra waste dumping ground as another major fire broke out at the site in the wee hours of today.


People walk at a smoke-enveloped park near the area.
The fire broke out around 1 am and smoke was billowing out till the filing of this report. According to officials, six fire engines and two water boozers were pressed into service.

A case of arson?

It may be a case of arson. We have asked the police to register an FIR in the case. Anindita Mitra, MC Commissioner

Though the fire is said to have been controlled, smoke continued to billow out from the dump site.

A guard saw a few men, possibly ragpickers, at the site late last night, who may have caused the fire to segregate and collect saleable items.


Firefighters in action at the Dadu Majra dumping ground in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
“It may be a case of arson. We have asked the police to register an FIR in the case,” MC Commissioner Anindita Mitra said.

Sources said a firefighting vehicle got stuck in the morning for two hours after an official asked to take it to the pile of waste. This blocked the passage of other fire vehicles.

“This aggravated the situation, otherwise the fire could have been controlled in the morning. Secondly, the sand being used by the MC was taken from near a biomining site and had plastic, which did not help much. The MC had no sand. Only water cannot douse such fires. Fire hydrants and a tubewell should be there at the site,” said a source.

However, Mitra reasoned that it was due to methane inside the dump that the fire prolonged. “We have enough sand which is brought from a construction site. We have also permanently stationed a fire team at the spot.”

The fire caused a lot of trouble for residents of Dadu Majra and those residing in neighbouring areas. Among the most affected were Sector 23, 24, 25, 37 and 38 as flames and plumes of orange-yellow smoke rose from the middle and spread in all directions of the garbage mound with wind.

Dadu Majra resident and dumping ground Joint Action Committee president Dyal Krishan said, “We felt itching in the eyes, had cough and problem in breathing. We are forced to live a hell-like life. Arrangements should be made to control such fires.”

Dr Ravindra Khaiwal from the PGI said, “The ill-effects of this fire will be more in areas which had smoke caused by the fire. It can cause breathing problem, discomfort, watery eyes and allergic reaction. If the situation prolongs, there can be more serious effects.”

Commuters also had tough time as the police had put up barricades outside the dumping ground road to divert traffic. The commuters had to take longer routes to reach their respective destinations. Traffic jams were also witnessed near the site.

Crores spent, but no relief

Crores have been spent on projects related to the dumping ground for the past several years, but there is no respite for residents.

Chandigarh Smart City Limited earlier gave the work of biomining half of the dumping ground with an 18-month deadline. The work was to be completed by June 2021, but till now only, around 65 per cent work has been done.

For the second remaining half of the dumping ground, the work is yet to be allotted. The MC has faltered in managing the processing plant, which lies across the road from the dumping ground.

The MC is able to process only around 120 metric tonnes of waste per day while the city produces around 500 metric tonnes of garbage daily. The remaining unprocessed waste goes to the dumping site.

It has been nearly two years that the civic body took over the processing plant from the Jaypee Group. However, the MC at its end also failed to upgrade the technology to process waste.

Security guard saw a few men at the site

Few men spotted by a security guard may have caused the fire
Only one camera at the site
No fire hydrant arrangements
No proper arrangements for sand