The Smoke That’s Throttling Mumbai

In what seems to be adding to the gargantuan woes of the planet, there’s yet another bummer that comes its way in the form of the burning embers of rotting garbage in the 18 storey high dumping ground in Deonar, Navi Mumbai. The week-long blanket of smog has not yet subsided and paints a gory picture of where humans are heading with the nature of such activities that result in grave consequences. As a way of undermining the hell like living conditions in and around the areas close to the said location, we bring to you a small part of what is, the tip of a very large iceberg.

“The first thing that I do in the morning is look outside my window to see if the smoke has cleared up”, sighs Chembur resident Kaushik Chauhan.

The fire, which has been emanating toxic smoke since 19th March this year, has not been ceased yet has been resulting in poor quality of air and harmful chemicals polluting it. Vandana Trivedi, a member of a group called Mumbai Pollution describes the situation saying, “The stench of the smoke has been spread to as far as Lower Parel and a small part of South Mumbai. People are not able to realise that it is because of the fire in the dumping ground, but if they analyse it close enough, they will be able to understand how serious an issue this is.” She goes on further to elaborate that the municipal corporation in the city must come up with scientific methods of garbage disposal, alternate locations to dump the garbage and find a solution to avoid such fires in the future as she believes that each of these recent fires are man-made disasters. “Even as citizens of the State, we must be conscious to segregate the waste that we throw in our dustbins everyday since that is the least we can do on our part”, sighs Trivedi.

Another resident of Sion, Ajinkya Swami frets about the way his children have been unable to go to school for a few days after the fire. “Forget everything else, imagine the psychological impact it has on the residents! I know a couple of neighbours who have gotten so restless and agitated that even if they spot a little smoke anywhere, they start to dread the day that follows”, explains Swami. “Burning plastic and other non-disposable waste which is one of the major components of the garbage in the ground releases chemicals like sulphur dioxide, styrene gas and in return, causes ailments like rashes, lack of breath, damaged kidneys and liver and even affects the reproductive system”, informs pulmonologist Dr. Umesh Kasliwal.

With an already bad quality of life in the city, the protest at Azad Maidan did little to improve the situation as authorities have not yet taken any solid action about the incident which recurs like a full moon night. The impact on the physical health of the surrounding residents is known but imagine the kind of fear it has instilled in them at the very thought of burning garbage. Kids are being sent away to far-off places, senior citizens’ conditions are deteriorating and the young lot have no option but to deal with it. Along with the pollution it has caused, take into consideration the unwanted displacement it is causing in an overcrowded city like ours. Is this the world you want to live in? That’s something to think about.

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