In the latest in a series of fire incidents in the area, a huge heap of plastic refuse dumped on land owned by HMT Machine Tools at Kalamassery along the extension route of the Seaport-Airport road was ablaze for some time on Tuesday.
The fire was reported close to where the gas pipelines of the City Gas Project pass through around 2 p.m. The presence of plastic and containers used for storing tar meant that thick black smoke billowed from the area covered with dry grass.
A fire tender from Eloor fire station put out the fire within 45 minutes. The fire was caused intentionally or by someone who tossed away a burning cigarette butt, it was assumed. “It was the fifth such incident since the start of the year and the presence of gas pipelines in the vicinity makes it a grave potential threat. The general public, police, and local body authorities should be alert to the danger,” said T.B. Ramakrishnan, Station Officer, Eloor Fire and Rescue Services.
Nishad A.K., Health Standing Committee chairman of the Kalamasserry municipality, attributed the problem to the alleged indifference of the HMT authorities. “We had issued multiple notices to HMT officials drawing attention to the dumping of waste on their property. It is their responsibility to ensure that their property is not turned into a waste dumping ground. But they have not been cooperative so far,” he said.
However, HMT employees said that the company in its precarious financial condition and reduced deployment of security personnel can hardly do anything about waste dumping unless the public changed their attitude about it.
“Previously, the company used to have over 300 security personnel guarding its premises whereas it is now scaled down to a fourth of that. Also, even a business seems to be thriving in dumping waste from outside the Kalamasserry municipality on HMT’s property,” said P. Krishnadas, secretary, CITU-affiliated HMT Employees Union.
“Frequent fires, besides causing air pollution, also pose a threat to the wilderness over the unused HMT land that acts as the region’s air coolers. We are going to lose this little patch of green should there be a major fire. But no one is taking this seriously,” says a nature enthusiast who alerted the fire services.