Kochi, Kerala, has become a “gas chamber” a week after a large fire broke out at a waste management facility in the city’s Brahmapuram neighbourhood. On the second day, firemen were able to put out the fire, but the area was still covered in lengthy columns of heavy, black smoke.
People have reported breathing issues as a result of the smoke from burnt plastic, metal, and other materials drifting towards urban settlements. Numerous people have complained of throat and eye burning.
The Keralan government has urged citizens to use N95 masks whenever they are outside. The public has been asked to refrain from running outside until the situation has stabilised. A 24-hour control room has been set up by the district medical officer.
#WATCH | In addition to defence firetenders on ground, aerial firefighting using Large Area Aerial Liquid Dispersal Eqpt by naval ALH. Over 5000 litres of water sprayed in active fire zones. Massive fire broke at Brahamapuram waste plant in Kochi— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2023
(Video: Southern Naval Command) pic.twitter.com/lEnBzSrCFz
All educational institutions in Kochi and several in the nearby Ernakulam have been closed.
The environment in Kochi resembles a COVID-19 lockdown. There are not many people on the roadways. People observed outside have on masks. The elderly and young are not leaving their homes.
At least 50,000 tonnes of trash were burned. According to representatives of the fire service, 70% of the affected area’s smoke has been contained. In the remaining 30%, where burning plastic garbage is a significant issue, they are attempting to entirely extinguish smoke.
“When the fire first started, we weren’t too badly impacted. As the fire had died down, the enormous, dense smoke made it quite challenging for us. Even my home was filled with smoke today. My hostel roommates had to wear masks to bed the night before. They complained about the smell and smoke “One kilometre from the waste management plant, Liz Biju, a college student, told NDTV on Wednesday. Her home is also close by.
The fire, which has burned enormous mounds of trash including plastic, metal, and rubber and released hazardous fumes, has been put out by at least 30 teams of firemen and navy helicopters.
“I request that the authorities intervene. This cannot be how we are breathing “explained Liz Biju.
The only significant centralised solid waste management facility in Kerala’s 14 districts is Brahmapuram in Kochi.
The Kochi municipal corporation has come under fire from the Kerala High Court for turning the city into a gas chamber. It asked for a report on the fire’s cause as well as a plan of action. According to the civic organisation, the fire’s origin is still under investigation.
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