Living in a slum by one of New Delhi’s trash landfills, Pramod is used to the stench, flies, government apathy and occasional fires. But this week’s inferno as India wilts in a heatwave came too close for comfort.
‘The fire was a few hundred yards from my home. It was so intense that I felt it was literally touching our skin,’ Pramod, 35, told AFP, at a lane not far from Bhalaswa landfill in north Delhi.
The blaze on the 60m-high rubbish hill began on Tuesday, 26 April and lit the night sky up in an apocalyptic orange, belching out noxious black fumes. It was still smouldering Friday, sending grey smog curling skywards as firefighters hosed it with water for a fourth day.
‘I have seen many things in life, but when I saw the landfill on fire, I was terrified,’ Pramod said. ‘I’ve only seen fires like that on the news or on TV.’
Right by the landfill, Deepti Foundation – which educates local children – had its building’s windows melted off from the fire, said project coordinator Lalu Mathew.
‘There are a lot of pollutants entering the classrooms,’ he told AFP. ‘It is not at all safe for the children to sit and learn something.’
Bhalaswa dump is just one of several in Delhi, testament to the city’s failure to manage the 12,000 tonnes of solid trash its 20 million people produce every day.
For more information, go to www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/india-landfill-waste-climate-change-heat-emissions-2655741