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Sehore’ Indira Nagar colony, people live amidst burning garbage smoke

Sehore Landfill Site smoke Indira nagar

When Asha Devi unfurls the windows of her home at dawn, the swirling smoke emanating from the nearby waste bin infiltrates her house. Her 4-month-old granddaughter starts coughing, Asha solemnly observes,

“The smoke has changed our existence into a nightmare. While others enjoy the aromatic scent of incense sticks burning in their homes each morning, we are doomed to endure the stench and harmful smoke every dawn and dusk.”

Asha Devi showing us the smoke coming in from the window of her house

Asha Devi resides in the second ward of the Indiranagar colony in Sehore city, situated near the garbage dump. This landfill receives around 89.89 metric tonnes of trash produced daily by the city’s inhabitants. In Sehore, 28 garbage carts pick up both wet and dry garbage from each home and deposit it into this dump situated on the Bhopal-Indore bypass road. Historically, there was no method in place for proper waste removal, resulting in an accumulation of approximately 2 lakh 74 thousand tonnes of legacy waste at this site.

Upon our team’s arrival at this location, we were taken aback by the enormous mounds of waste and filth. The lingering odor pervaded the entire area. Amidst the refuse, a fire burned continuously, producing a constant stream of smoke that made breathing challenging. Considering the situation, it was horrifying to imagine the living conditions of approximately 4,000 residents in Indiranagar Basti and Devnagar Colony, located just a kilometre, or two away.

Sehore hopes from the solid waste plant

A solid waste processing facility has been established to treat daily garbage and 2 lakh 74 thousand tonnes of legacy waste. The facility, which officially began operations on October 27, was originally scheduled to start in April. However, due to delays, it commenced in October. The plant is capable of disposing of 30-35 tonnes of waste within a 24-hour time frame.

Waste processing machine installed in Sehore

People believe that once the legacy waste is managed, there won’t be any garbage pile-up in Indiranagar colony. Moreover, the local residents will not have to endure the foul smell and smoke. However, until now, no attempts have been made in this city to evaluate how severely this garbage smoke might have impaired the health of those who have been inhaling it for years. Santosh Bai, a resident of Indiranagar colony, has this to say:

“Garbage has been burning here for years, most of the people in the locality remain unwell. They suffer from respiratory problems and have a burning sensation in the eyes. Some have to go to the doctor frequently… no one has come to inquire about us, who will compensate for the damage that has been done to our health in so many years?”

Rajendra, a resident of Indiranagar, says that

“Because of the garbage, there are flies here all the time. These flies come from the garbage bin and sit in our food, due to which we get sick. If you come here at 6 in the morning, you will see smoke everywhere.”

Burning garbage in Sehore’s garbage dump, which keeps emitting smoke

Impact of improper waste management

The poisonous and harmful leachate leak from the waste at the garbage dump site when it comes in contact with water and air. Leachate is a mixture of harmful chemicals like microplastic, lead, iron, nickel, cadmion, zinc, magnesium, mercury, arsenic, cobalt, phenol and many pesticides, which is brownish black in colour. All these chemicals are cancer-causing agents i.e. carcinogen. They mixed with soil, poison vegetables and crops and pollute them when mixed with groundwater or water of rivers and ponds. When garbage is burnt, poisonous gases like furan dioxin, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are released, which harms the health of humans and animals. Similar problems are also there in Garbage dum site (Khanti) located in the Adampur Cantonment of Bhopal. This issue has been covered in detail by the Groundreport.

The legacy waste kept in Sehore garbage dump getting burnt to ashes

Violation of NGT guidelines

As per the NGT guidelines, trees should be planted around the garbage dumpsite in a city to manage air pollution. However, in Sehore city, garbage is being dumped on the planted trees themselves. In another guidelines, it is mandatory to construct a thick concrete platform to dump the daily garbage. This is done so that the harmful chemicals do not seep into the ground. Due to legacy waste, and lack of appropriate management, the garbage is still dumped on the ground. There are fields of farmers around vicnity and cows also wander here to graze, and eat garbage.

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Asha Devi closes the window of her house. She hopes, next time when this window opens, clean and fresh air should come inside the house.

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  • I am inherently curious about human experiences and the evolution of society. When he is not engrossed in a book, you can easily find him engaged in films.

  • Pallav Jain is co-founder of Ground Report and an independent journalist and visual storyteller based in Madhya Pradesh. He did his PG Diploma in Radio and TV journalism from IIMC 2015-16.

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