Rahul visits Deonar dumpyard, targets Modi on Swachh Bharat

Mumbai, April 12 (IANS) Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday visited the garbage dumping ground at Deonar here and took the opportunity to blast Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Campaign.

“The PM speaks about Swachh Bharat, his (party) government is in power in Maharashtra and they must cooperate. Either the PM or the chief minister must take some action,” he said.

Addressing distressed locals in Deonar in north-east Mumbai where the huge dumping ground has been smouldering with intermittent fires leading to air pollution and health problems, Gandhi said the Swachh Bharat mission lacks strategy and vision to implement cleanliness.

“Only speaking about Swachh Bharat and actually implementing it are two different things. It’s a sad state of affairs,” he said, demanding the dumpyard must be shut down and some other strategy evolved to resolve the issue.

Following repeated fires — the pictures of which were captured from satellites a few months ago, the local people have been demanding remedial measures, including shifting the dumping ground elsewhere.

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam and other leaders had requested Gandhi to come and assess the situation and the plight of the surrounding population.

Accompanied by Nirupam and other party leaders, Gandhi met locals, some of whom were weeping, and others complaining of chronic ailments due to the highly polluted atmosphere, and patiently listened to their woes.

“It’s up to the government to do something to clean up this area. Mumbai is a symbol of Indian progress and it should not become such a dumping ground,” he said.

In recent months, two major and several smaller fires broke out at the dumping ground, resulting in a thick blanket of smoke over large parts of the city.

Spread over nearly 325 acres, the site daily receives thousands of tonnes of garbage collected from all over Mumbai, leading to mountains of rubbish, which create pollution and health hazards.

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