A major fire was reported at the plastic recycling unit at the Pachanady garbage dump in Mangaluru late on Sunday night. Dakshina Kannada district officials told TNM that the fire was brought under control at 1.30 am on Monday. Equipment at the recycling unit was damaged due to the fire; however, it did not spread to the landfill or garbage dump nearby.
Six fire tenders were pressed into service after the fire broke out at Nature Friendly Recycling Industries, set up in 2020 to segregate and recycle plastic waste at the Pachanady garbage dump. The fire was brought under control early on Monday morning.
The cause of the fire is yet to be established, but it reportedly originated at the shed of the waste recycling unit. The incident comes days after the Karnataka High Court asked officials from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to visit the garbage dump and file a report about it.
The High Court is hearing a petition filed by the Karnataka Legal Services Authority after a landslide occurred at the Pachanady garbage dump in August 2019, when a large mass of garbage slid down along with rainwater. The incident forced 21 families living in and around the Mandara village to relocate to a relief centre.
The landfill is the main dump yard in Mangaluru and is over 50 years old. It covers an area of 28 hectares. The petitioner of the High Court case, Shridhar Prabhu has said that the landfill is still being used by the Mangaluru City Corporation to dump garbage even after the landslide in 2019. The district administration was exploring other avenues to solve the issue of unscientific garbage dumping at Pachanady.
Residents have previously complained about spontaneous fires and foul smell from the dump yard. Jeeth Milan Roche, an environmentalist and entrepreneur based in Mangaluru, tried to plant over 1500 saplings in the dump yard in 2016 but the plan did not succeed due to the heat at the landfill. He has replanted saplings at the garbage dump, and has said that they were not affected by the fire on Sunday night.