Margao: After a suggestion from an expert, authorities on Friday late evening began the exercise of covering the burning Sonsoddo garbage dump with debris in order to douse the fire, which has been raging for the last five days.
It is understood that the decision was arrived at during an important meeting Chief Minister Pramod Sawant held with various departments in Panaji.
Sources said that the spraying of chemical has been stopped, as it has proved to be ineffective in dousing the fire. Sources also said the public works department has been given the responsibility to cover the burning dump with mud and debris to help stop further burning of the waste.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister visited the Sonsoddo garbage dump site and took stock of the situation. The Chief Minister assured to control the fire at the earliest. He spoke about the short term and long term measures on how to treat the Sonsoddo waste.
“I admit the delay on my part to visit Sonsoddo. Government will take all the preventive measures to control the fire and stop the smoke billowing out of the waste dump,” Sawant said after inspecting the waste treatment facility operated by Fomento Green company.
Chairperson of Margao municipal council (MMC) Babita Prabhudesai explained to the Chief Minister the manner in which the treatment plant at Sonsoddo operates. After listening to the MMC chairperson, Sawant promised to find a solution to the whole issue of Sonsoddo. “I have ordered the director of health services to put up a base camp at the areas in Curtorim affected by air pollution so that the people there can be helped,” he said.
Sawant was not accompanied by any other minister or MLA during his visit to Sonsoddo. Sources said that the Chief Minister visited Sonsoddo site directly from the Dabolim airport when he arrived there from New Delhi where he had been to attend the Prime Minister’s swearing-in ceremony.
Besides MMC chairperson and chief officer, Deputy Collector Uday Prabhudesai was also present at the Sonsoddo site during the Chief Minister’s visit.
Meanwhile, deputy director of fire services, South zone, Nitin Raikar said, “We have sprayed 4,77,500 litres of water on the Sonsoddo dump to extinguish the fire and are continuing to do it. A total of 148 firefighters are involved in the operation. We have requested the District Collector to provide us a crane and activators to help us douse the fire.”
Mumbai fire service chief and director of Maharashtra Fire Services Dr Prabhat Rahangdale visited the Sonsoddo site on Friday. He provided some inputs to the authorities on dousing the fire. He said that the chemical used at Sonsoddo is also used in Mumbai to douse flames. He, however, raised concern over people residing in the vicinity of the garbage dump.
Meanwhile, many children from the Maina Curtorim area and Gandhi road areas have been affected by the smoke emanating from the burning garbage dump at Sonsoddo. “We don’t know whether the air is safe here to breathe,” said a woman from Maina Curtorim. She demanded that the Goa State Pollution Control Board test and declare the air quality.