CHENNAI: Residents of Kodungaiyur were up in tears literally after smoke billowed from the dump yard that caught fire on Friday evening. The fire broke out in a portion of the dump yard at 4 pm and though a fire tender reached there in no time it was not enough to contain the flames, which spread quickly. Soon, flames spread to other areas of the 269-acre dump yard. Corporation officials said fire broke out in the dry weeds and quickly spread across the landfill.
“We normally remove weeds by April so as to avoid fire breakout during the summer,’’ said a Corporation official. “It happens only in May and is surprising to see this in February,’’ said Kamalakannan G, who lives just next to the dump yard. When Express visited the spot, thick smog had enveloped the surrounding areas. Tyres, slippers, shoes, plastic bottles and bags among other materials was fuelling the fire. Meanwhile, almost 70% per cent of the fire had been doused by 6 pm. “The smog has approximately travelled one-km south and will be doused by the night,’’ officials said.
A survey by Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) on people involved with dump yard said 30.8% of them faced respiratory issues and 31.4% showed symptoms affecting skeletal and muscular systems. The respondents also reported skin problems, eye infections and few women reported menstrual problems too. Satyarupa Shekhar, Director - Urban Governance, CAG, said dumpyard fires could have hazardous consequences. ‘’Methane in the dump yard is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide,’’ said Satyarupa. “By setting up Slum Board tenements nearby, the exposure of residents to pollution is amplified,’’ she added.