The hue and cry over the continuing fires has increased. People living around the dump are desperate to shift but nobody is ready to purchase their houses. Rajinder Singh of New Puneet Nagar said: “We can shut our doors and windows to keep the foul smell out but how do we stop this smoke. Our relatives have stopped visiting us. Nobody wants to risk sickness by coming to such a locality. Our children can’t study and the family can’t eat for the past five days. The situation is pathetic.”
Even the firefighters have started complaining of irritation in the eyes and breathlessness, for they seem to have inhaled too much of the landfill’s toxic gases and smoke. One of the firemen said on the condition of anonymity that: “For five days, we have been working here in shifts and now situation is that we are unable to breathe. Harmful methane has entered our system and affected our health.” A contractual fireman gets only Rs 10,000 a month as the job is not regular. They don’t have insurance in case anything happens to them.
Fire station officer Maninder Singh said: “We had controlled the fire in the morning and called the tenders back but, in the afternoon, the fire restarted in some parts of the dump and fast wind helped it spread.” The civic administration already has claimed to be helpless.
The Yuva NGO protested at the dump, accusing the previous ruling and opposition parties of letting a mountain of garbage build up. The NGO will take the matter to Union minister Hardeep Puri and send him pictures of the site. It also called up Ludhiana East legislator Daljit Grewal to find a solution.