Kochi’s air quality is in serious danger because of the repeated dump yard fires happening in the city. Even though it is known as a lively cultural center, the harmful smoke and pollutants from these fires are damaging the environment and causing health problems for the people living there. The dangerous particles and chemicals released during these fires are causing respiratory issues, skin problems, and other health concerns. It is essential to take immediate action to protect the health of the people in Kochi and preserve the city’s beauty and energy.

Understanding the Causes of Dump Yard Fires

Fires at dump yards happen for different reasons, like people not being careful, changes in the weather, and bad ways of getting rid of trash. In Kochi, the main reason for these fires is that they don’t have good ways to manage the garbage. The city generates a massive amount of waste load. This results in the accumulation of garbage in dump yards, which becomes a breeding ground for fires.

The weather is also making things worse. Kochi usually has hot, humid summers and a lot of rain during the monsoon season. When it rains, the garbage in the dump yards gets wet, and that can make it catch fire more easily. The hot weather during the summer months makes it even worse and causes more fires.

Kochi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) 

Real time air quality kochi, kerala
AQI app (android & iOS) for real-time air quality updates
kochi aqi

For the past 11 days, the 100-acre waste dump yard in Brahmapuram, Kochi has been producing dangerous fumes. The fire started on March 2nd. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used to measure the quality of air in Kochi. It looks at the amount of pollutants in the air, like tiny particles, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. If the AQI is high, it means the air quality is bad, and it can make people sick. The fumes from the fire are very dangerous and can cause cancer, kidney problems, reproductive issues, and breathing problems.

If certain precautions are not taken, the negative effects of this situation could harm the brain and increase the risk of cancer. This could also result in a decrease in brain function.

Dr. Rajesh V, senior consultant at Rajagiri Hospital

The Health Department is looking into how these dump yard fires might affect people’s health, even though no severe cases have happened yet.

The local bodies and self-government departments are to blame for the problem, and anyone who caused it will be punished.

P Rajeev, Kerala Industries Minister

Chaos and Crisis: Local Government Struggles

Kochi's Air Quality Crisis

The local govt. in Kochi is currently facing several difficulties in dealing with the dump yard fire crisis. The main issue is that there is not enough infrastructure in place for proper waste management. The facilities that currently exist are not enough to handle the large amount of waste produced by the city. Which further results in garbage piling up in dump yards.

Ernakulam District Collector NSK Umesh, who also serves as the chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority, reported that officials had a virtual conference with New York City Fire Department’s Deputy Chief George Healy to address the crisis. Umesh said that Healy suggested keeping a lookout in the areas of the trash pile where the fire could still happen and that the way they are putting out the fire by dousing it with water is the best method. Healy also said that they should watch the areas where the fire has stopped but might start again. Expressing optimism, the Collector noted that they had already extinguished 95% of the fire in the yard.

One problem is that people don’t know enough about how dump yard fires affect the nature and their health. The authorities haven’t told them about the dangers of air pollution. Because of this, it’s hard for the govt. to get people to help with the crisis. Moving the waste to a different place where it can soak in water is also hard to do.

In the middle of the burnt trash, bulldozers keep digging and taking away the burned waste. Meanwhile local firefighters battle the flames with unyielding determination, dousing them with water. 

What do the residents have to say?

“We slept with a mask on”

A resident
Kochi's Air Quality

As students prepared for their board exams, many reported experiencing headaches. Meanwhile, engineering students residing near the dumping ground described the thick smoke as a suffocating blanket, hindering their ability to breathe.

Sasha Saju, a teacher, expressed fear over the impact of toxic waste on the crops and food consumed by the population, in addition to those already suffering from cancer. The situation is alarming.

Conclusion – Urgent Need for Collective Action to Address Kochi’s Air Quality Crisis

In conclusion, the dump yard fire crisis in Kochi is a severe and growing problem that needs urgent attention. The impact of these fires on the environment and health is severe and long-lasting.

To address this crisis:

  • It is crucial to improve waste management infrastructure in the city.
  • Promote recycling and composting methods
  • Explore alternative disposal methods
  • Citizens also have a crucial role to play in raising awareness
  • Citizens must engaging in activism and advocacy, and pushing the government to take action.
  • It is only through collective action that we can address this crisis and ensure a healthier and more sustainable future for Kochi.
  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/thiruvananthapuram/kerala-government-new-york-fire-department-advice-kochi-dump-yard-blaze-8492347/
  2. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/toxic-fumes-from-brahmapuram-dump-yard-in-kochi-send-locals-into-lockdown-mode-2344488-2023-03-09

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