Every day 10,000 tonnes of rubbish gets dumped at the four major landfill sites around the Indian capital city, Delhi. One of these sites, Ghazipur, has been on fire for the past two weeks. This is not surprising as organic refuse generates methane when it rots. Of course, the garbage has already been picked through for useful items with some cash value before it gets tipped here. But still, there are children wandering about, searching for anything recyclable and pi dogs sniffing out anything edible.

There is a power plant at the site which uses methane to produce electricity, but this is uneconomic as they cannot lay the extraction pipes under the active part of the dump.


The mountain of rubbish at Bhalswa
A street in Bhalswa Dairy

In the catchment area of our clinic is Bhalswa, one of the other massive landfill sites. This mountain is not on fire. Yet. But there is a huge, black, stinking, toxic lagoon called Bhalswa Lake. This lake separates the bucolic-sounding suburb of “Bhalswa Dairy” from the prosaically named settlement of “Mukandpur”. It reminds me of the toilet scene in “Slumdog Millionaire”. I spent a lot of time on LightRoom editing these pictures to make them look prettier.

Luckily for the local inhabitants, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes prefer relatively clean water for breeding. They transmit dengue and Chikungunya fever. But culicine mosquitoes don’t care; they will breed in any wet filth.

Many of the people in the slums or “jhuggi jhopri unplanned settlements” (JJs for short), work sorting or picking through rubbish. Similar items are packed together in a gigantic sheet or a huge sack, waiting for a truck to cart it all away for recycling. It must be like living in one of Dante’s circles of Hell. The third, probably, without the icy rain.


By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s