Basic safety infrastructure, such as vents in sites where garbage is stored or processed to allow methane to escape, could prevent such fire accidents in garbage yards, said Vaman Acharya, Chairman of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. He said the fire was an accident waiting to happen as no fire safety mechanisms were in place at the landfills and dumpsites. “But for all future landfills, we are insisting that these processes are in place, starting with vents to allow methane gas to escape (when it is formed where garbage is dumped) to leaving enough space for fire trucks to pass through and enough in-house fire-fighting equipment.”

On the impact of a fire hazard of this proportion on neighbouring villages, Mr. Acharya said that while carbon oxides and particulate matter will only have a short-term effect on the environment, effects of burning plastic will persist for over a week. When plastic burns, toxic furans and dioxins have a long-term impact on health of people in the area.

“It would be advisable for people to be on the guard,” he said.