Mumbai's Uttan Dumping Ground Issues Escalate: Residents Demand Closure Amid Toxic Leachate Concerns

Mumbai's Uttan Dumping Ground Issues Escalate: Residents Demand Closure Amid Toxic Leachate Concerns

After fires at the Uttan dumping ground that sent smoke into the surrounding villages during the dry season, residents of the area have complained about toxic leachate from the garbage after the rains. Residents have demanded a closing down on the dump and removal of the accumulated garbage.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 12:27 AM IST
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Mumbai's Uttan Dumping Ground Issues Escalate: Residents Demand Closure Amid Toxic Leachate Concerns |

Mumbai: After fires at the Uttan dumping ground that sent smoke into the surrounding villages during the dry season, residents of the area have complained about toxic leachate from the garbage after the rains. Residents have demanded a closing down on the dump and removal of the accumulated garbage.

The issue has received support from the local churches. Recently, a priest who was delivering a sermon at the Our Lady of Velankanni shrine at Uttan made an impassioned appeal to church members and government authorities to resolve the problem.

“We were surprised when the priest spoke about the issue in his homily. It is rare to talk about a subject like this during a religious service,” said a resident of Uttan.

The dump, located on a hillock in Uttan village, receives garbage from Mira-Bhayandar city which neighbours Mumbai in the northwest. Five villages are located around the periphery of the hillock - Dongri, Tarodi, Pali, Chowk, and Uttan.

Residents said that since the dumping ground is located on a hillock, the leachate from the decomposing garbage flows into their fields. Leachate is described as a highly contaminated liquid that is generated from decomposition of garbage and precipitation. Leachate can mix with groundwater or seep into nearby bodies of surface water, compromising public health and environmental quality. Pools of leachate have collected in the fields around the dump. “The fields can no longer be cultivated,” said a resident of Uttan.

Sandeep Burkhen, a campaigner against the dump and a resident of Uttan, said that more than 100 tons of garbage is deposited daily at the dump. “A hill is the wrong place for a garbage dump. The leachate gets into our ponds and creeks where we fish. We want the accumulated garbage to be removed from the hill,” said Burkhen.

Meryln Dsa, former corporator in the MBMC – elections have not been held to elect corporators - said that the Uttan dumping ground has been a protracted issue ever since it was established in 2007 after ignoring protests from the residents. "The fields are being destroyed because of the waste flowing from the dump. The villagers are bearing the brunt of the city folks," said Dsa.

On June 29, residents had a meeting with Pratap Sarnaik, a Member of Legislative Assembly from Thane and the Shiv Sena Party’s ‘communication head’ for the area.

Residents said that two more villages – Murdha and Rai – are affected by frequent fires at the dump. "The wind smells of burning plastic," said Lourdes D'Souza of the Dharavi Beth Bachao Samiti, an association of residents. Dharavi Beth is the local name of the area. The Mobai Gaothan Parishad, an association of the original residents of Mumbai’s old villages, said they recently met the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, to discuss the Uttan dumping ground, among other issues. Officials from the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) did not respond to calls and messages asking for a response to the residents' complaints.

Dsa said that garbage is deposited at the dump without removing it from the plastic bags, making it difficult to compost or recycle. "Plastic bags are banned but grocery vendors get them from suppliers outside Maharashtra. The corporation organised a meeting on Monday to consider a complete ban on polythene bags. The bags are a problem because there is no segregation of waste and households pack the garbage in plastic bags. This slows down the decomposition," said Dsa. "There have been attempts to remedy the situation at the dump, but it has turned into mere photo ops." Dsa added that they are trying to involve school children in their campaign to discourage families from using plastic bags to wrap garbage.

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