...and, in fact, have killed directly and indirectly. Last September in Delhi a tower of trash broke away from the mass during monsoon rains. It crashed into a nearby canal, which created a surge of sewage that flung motorcyclists into another canal also filled with dirty water. Two people died. Indirect deaths number many more; airborne particles infect people with tuberculosis and dengue fever, singed trees and turn the ground water a filmy yellow.
A lot of people means a lot of trash. Delhi is a city of 20,000,000. Trash heaps grow to 200 feet tall; about 80 billion pounds of trash have accumulated at four official dumping sites. It is the largest, least regulated and most hazardous in the world. And the city does not provide trash cans nor do citizens have the money to buy them. And, garbage collection is not guaranteed, so many residents simply fling trash onto the ground.
The problem with waste buildup has become so severe that the Supreme Court said earlier this year that air traffic control at Delhi’s international airport eventually would have to steer planes around the dumps because they are so high.