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8 days on, Boragaon's landfill still on fire

By Manash Pratim Dutta
8 days on, Boragaons landfill still on fire
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Guwahati, May 12: A fire that broke out at the old Borgaon dumping ground around eight days ago has caused severe air pollution in the southern outskirts of the city.

Especially, nearby areas of the dumping ground are covered by heavy smoke which is causing severe breathing problems to many of the area. Officials of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) claimed that the fire was completely extinguished by this evening due to continuous heavy rainfall. On the other hand, locals said some small portions in the interior parts of the dumping ground are still burning.

During a visit by this reporter, an employee of GMC present at the site said that although they were not sure about the cause of the fire, it is assumed that some rage-pickers might have smoked cigarettes or bidi inside the dumping ground and threw the burning buds to the garbage.

"The fire broke out in the interior part of the dumping ground where it is not possible to send a fire brigade to douse the fire. Still, initially we called the fire brigade, but they failed to control the fire. Later we used a Fokland excavator to control the fire, but that attempt also went futile," the GMC employee told The Assam Tribune.

On the other hand, Simanta Jyoti Barua, an official of GMC, said that the fire had resulted from the methane gas produced from the garbage. Barua also said that on Thursday evening the fire was completely doused after incessant rainfall in the area.

GMC had started the dumping ground in 2008 and following the intervention of the National Green Tribunal, the dumping ground was closed in 2021. Now GMC is carrying out recycling of the waste at the site.

According to environmental activists, during the period of its operation, GMC used to dump around 500-800 tons of garbage in the dumping ground every day.

Notably, the dumping ground was signified as a serious threat to the Deepor Beel and till date it is causing serious harm to the Ramsar site. Although recycling of waste has been under way for the last few months, sources at GMC said that it will take around three years to recycle the entire waste of the dumping ground.

Explaining the loopholes of the dumping ground, a study report of Pollution Control Board, Assam said, "The dumping ground at Boragaon does not conform to all specifications of a proper landfill site. Garbage from the entire city is being dumped without proper segregation. The leachate collection facility is also not available. As all types of garbage are dumped in this site, the dump may endanger the environment in and around the site, particularly the soil and groundwater quality apprehended to be contaminated. The Ramsar site-Deepor Beel is in close proximity to the dumping site. The leachate from the dumping site may perhaps contaminate the beel water as evident from occasional death of fish in Deepor beel."

The GMC has also drawn flak from locals and environment activists over its failure in controlling the fire.

Criticizing GMC over the incident, Promod Kalita, an environment activist of the area said, "The incident has proved the inefficiency and negligence of the GMC authority in managing the dumping ground. They miserably failed in controlling the fire. If the rain did not come then it would cause serious harm to a large part of the area. On the other hand, we also have doubts that fire might be a way to save the fund which has been earmarked to carry out the recycling of garbage."

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8 days on, Boragaons landfill still on fire

Guwahati, May 12: A fire that broke out at the old Borgaon dumping ground around eight days ago has caused severe air pollution in the southern outskirts of the city.

Especially, nearby areas of the dumping ground are covered by heavy smoke which is causing severe breathing problems to many of the area. Officials of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) claimed that the fire was completely extinguished by this evening due to continuous heavy rainfall. On the other hand, locals said some small portions in the interior parts of the dumping ground are still burning.

During a visit by this reporter, an employee of GMC present at the site said that although they were not sure about the cause of the fire, it is assumed that some rage-pickers might have smoked cigarettes or bidi inside the dumping ground and threw the burning buds to the garbage.

"The fire broke out in the interior part of the dumping ground where it is not possible to send a fire brigade to douse the fire. Still, initially we called the fire brigade, but they failed to control the fire. Later we used a Fokland excavator to control the fire, but that attempt also went futile," the GMC employee told The Assam Tribune.

On the other hand, Simanta Jyoti Barua, an official of GMC, said that the fire had resulted from the methane gas produced from the garbage. Barua also said that on Thursday evening the fire was completely doused after incessant rainfall in the area.

GMC had started the dumping ground in 2008 and following the intervention of the National Green Tribunal, the dumping ground was closed in 2021. Now GMC is carrying out recycling of the waste at the site.

According to environmental activists, during the period of its operation, GMC used to dump around 500-800 tons of garbage in the dumping ground every day.

Notably, the dumping ground was signified as a serious threat to the Deepor Beel and till date it is causing serious harm to the Ramsar site. Although recycling of waste has been under way for the last few months, sources at GMC said that it will take around three years to recycle the entire waste of the dumping ground.

Explaining the loopholes of the dumping ground, a study report of Pollution Control Board, Assam said, "The dumping ground at Boragaon does not conform to all specifications of a proper landfill site. Garbage from the entire city is being dumped without proper segregation. The leachate collection facility is also not available. As all types of garbage are dumped in this site, the dump may endanger the environment in and around the site, particularly the soil and groundwater quality apprehended to be contaminated. The Ramsar site-Deepor Beel is in close proximity to the dumping site. The leachate from the dumping site may perhaps contaminate the beel water as evident from occasional death of fish in Deepor beel."

The GMC has also drawn flak from locals and environment activists over its failure in controlling the fire.

Criticizing GMC over the incident, Promod Kalita, an environment activist of the area said, "The incident has proved the inefficiency and negligence of the GMC authority in managing the dumping ground. They miserably failed in controlling the fire. If the rain did not come then it would cause serious harm to a large part of the area. On the other hand, we also have doubts that fire might be a way to save the fund which has been earmarked to carry out the recycling of garbage."