Residents see danger as garbage mounds emit fumes

Refuse-derived Fuel (RDF) accumulated on the Somasundara Palya lakebed has been emitting fumes for the past two weeks. DH PHOTO/S K DINESH

Shot to global infamy with its fire-catching lakes, Bengaluru is now witnessing yet another ecological catastrophe. Huge mounds of Refuse-derived Fuel (RDF) at waste-processing units have begun to catch fire, owing to the high concentration of ammonia. People living in HSR Layout, especially around Somasundara Palya, are probably the first victims of the latest ecological threat. 

For over two weeks now, residents have been witnessing fumes and smoke billowing out of the large mounds of RDF dumped at the plant run by the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC). They blame the high concentration of ammonia that has accumulated under these mounds due to anaerobic conditions. 

"It was in February 2017 that many of us witnessed the fire for the first time. We saw the fumes catching fire at the beginning of this year, too," said Kamesh Rastogi, a local resident. "Now, we have been seeing fumes and smoke almost at regular intervals in the last fortnight."  

Surprisingly, KCDC officials claimed they haven't come across any such development. "There is neither smoke nor any fire at the site. I have inspected the area," Jyothi, the plant manager, maintained.

Rastogi said if the authorities failed to take note of the issue, there was every possibility of the RDF mounds catching fire and endangering the lives of people residing around the plant. 

About 25,000 people live in the area and many of them are already suffering from respiratory diseases due to the unbearable stench. "Many families are considering shifting to other areas of the city," bemoaned Lokesh Reddy, who lives close to the plant. 

Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner, health and solid waste management, BBMP, sought to allay the residents' fears, saying: "We have started shifting the RDF away to quarries. There could have been fumes due to high temperatures, owing to the different nature of the waste accumulated at the site." 

But residents are not ready to believe the BBMP and are planning to file a PIL petition in the high court. Residents' complaints had prompted Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara to tweet last week: "I have asked the BBMP commissioner to look into this issue immediately and get back to me with a report." 

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Residents see danger as garbage mounds emit fumes

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