The Deonar dumping ground that was built in 1927 is the oldest and the biggest one in Asia. While most dumping grounds are ‘retired’ within 30 years, Deonar has outdone its saturation point and the garbage dumps are as high as nine-storeyed buildings. Currently, dumping is carried out on 110 hectares of the 127 hectares. Around 1,200 trucks full of garbage from all over the city come to empty the garbage daily.
When the British identified the 127 hectares of land abutting the creek, it was far away from civilization, save for small settlements. Today, thanks to the march of urbanisation, Deonar is right in the heart of the city, spewing killer gases every minute into the homes along Ghatkopar, Chembur and Vashi.
Around 2.5 million people are affected by the pollution from the Deonar ground. A Survey of nearby hospitals and nursing homes showed that several residents in the Chembur-Ghatkopar stretch have been showing up with an alarming incidence of respiratory problems. From frequent coughs to the more-worrying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the health of these citizens is in shambles. The civic ward has more cases of tuberculosis than any other part of the city.
The surroundings are so polluted that BEST employees have for the past seven years refused to take possession of two residential buildings constructed close to the ground. About 3,300 employees working at the Shivaji Nagar bus station which abuts the dumping ground do not even eat in their “smelly’’ canteen.