The port city of Kochi in Kerala was hit by a massive landfill fire last month. It took firefighters close to two weeks to douse the fires. Meanwhile, Kochi and its neighbourhood was enveloped in a thick haze of toxic fumes and methane emissions.
Brahmapuram, the landfill site in Kochi, is one among 3,000 landfills spread across the country. But it is not the largest or the highest. That dubious distinction goes to the Deonar trash mountain outside Mumbai, which has seen sporadic fires.
India creates more methane from landfill sites than any other country, according to GHGSat (Greenhouse Gas Satellite), which monitors emissions. Methane, next to carbon dioxide, is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas and a major contributor to the climate crisis.
Under the Clean India programme, there is an effort to remove these mountains of garbage and convert them into green zones. But this will take a long time.
India wants to lower its methane output, but it hasn’t signed the Global Methane Pledge which aims to collectively cut global emissions by at least 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030.
India’s refusal to join is because a sizeable percentage of its methane emissions also come from essentials such as agriculture and farm animals.
Methane emissions aren’t the only hazards from landfills. Dangerous toxins seep into the ground, polluting the water supply for thousands living nearby these trash mountains.