Posted On Thursday, July 05, 2012 at 03:18:55 PM
Pune’s woes with the elusive monsoon and the fast depleting water resources of the city just got deeper. At a time when the city can barely spare a bucket of water, a fire at the Urali Devachi Garbage Depot has soaked up 16 million litres of water, of which 8.5 lakh litres were potable.
The fire which broke out on Saturday afternoon at the 165-acre garbage dump took almost four days before it could be completely doused, late on Tuesday afternoon. With the garbage piled up to 70 feet and the fire spread over a 2-km radius, the task at hand was enormous.
|Firemen put out the flames at Urali Devachi Garbage Depot
Located eight kms outside Pune, the depot relied on local water supply from neighbouring wells and borewells. But it soon ran them dry.
Prashant Ranpise, Acting Chief Fire Officer of Pune Municipal Corporation informed, “ We have two tanks with individual capacities of seventy thousand and one lakh (0.1 million) litre in our premises.”
This apart, the department has identified natural wells within the city to use in case of fire. “If there is major outbreak of fire in the city, we will first use our stored water. Next we will tap water sources like canals or natural wells. Only after that do we go for potable water,” said Ranpise.
However, given the distance to the Urali Devachi depot, the department despatched only 2-3 tankers of 10,000 litres each. Clearly, this supply was of no consequence.
This left the fire fighters with no option but to dip into the city's precious drinking water resources. About 85 tankers (again of 10,000 litre capacity each) drew from the Ramtekadi water filling station at Hadapsar.
“It was a very tricky situation. We had to decide if we should use drinking water,” Pramod Yadav, Special Officer in charge of municipal solid waste admitted. “Finally we gave priority to fire as we did not have any choice,” he explained.
While water is critical for drinking, it is equally important for other daily requirements. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) any person would need at least 180 litres of water a day. Based on this norm, it could be said that the fire at Urali Devachi has snatched away water that could have met the basic needs of 4,722 Punekars in a day.
Fire is common to the garbage dump in summer. But this year it has come pretty late in the season and caught the civic body unawares. The dump had actually brimmed its capacity in 2003 and has been the centre of a lot controversy. More recently PMC gave permission to private players to recycle the garbage and generate electricity.
► If there is a major fire in the city, we will first use stored water, next we will tap sources like canals or natural wells and only then go for potable water
- Prashant Ranpise, Acting Chief Fire Officer, PMC
► It was a very tricky situation. We had to decide if we should use drinking water. Finally we gave priority to fire as we did not have any choice
- Pramod Yadav, In-charge of PMC Solid Waste Management