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Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 14:08 UK

India's 'fragrant' rubbish dumps

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

A garbage dump in Deonar, Mumbai
Rubbish is dumped in open landfills in Indian cities

Authorities in the western Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) have been dousing rubbish dumps with perfume to lessen the putrid stench.

Municipal workers have been spraying two landfills in the city with herbal perfume for the last six months after residents complained of the stink.

Locals say perfuming the rubbish has lessened the stench. Environmentalists say it is an unsustainable solution.

Indian cities usually have open waste landfills, which pose health hazards.

The stench in areas around the landfills is high as the rubbish is not separated. Urchins and rag pickers scour the garbage for recyclable items.

Complaints

Mumbai has a population of nearly 18 million, and generates 8,500 metric tonnes of rubbish every day. Nearly 500,000 people live near rubbish landfills.

Officials say that the stench from the landfills in Deonar and Mulund was so great that local residents started protesting.

So the authorities hit upon the novel idea of dousing the landfills with perfume to kill the stench.

A herbal perfume diluted with water is sprayed over the landfills almost every day.

The perfume costs $114,000 for 42,000 litres, which is required to "perfume" the landfills for between six to eight months.

"Perfuming the garbage has helped. Residents are complaining less. This will continue till we find a long-term solution," said senior municipal engineer A Karim.

A local resident George Kurien, who lives near one of the landfills, said he had filed several petitions demanding that officials treat the rubbish.

"Segregation of garbage is the solution to reducing stench," he said.

Garbage disposal methods in many Indian cities remain antiquated - rubbish is simply dumped on vacant plots, rather than being scientifically disposed of.

In one of the country's fastest growing cities, Gurgaon in northern Haryana state, there is not a single landfill. Rubbish is simply dumped all over the place.


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