(P1) On any morning in the PORT of Mumbai in western India, a thick, yellow-gray HAZE hangs over the city. Driving on one of the highways, buildings just dozens of meters away are hard to see.

(P2) As you approach Deonar, the city’s oldest garbage DUMP (and Asia’s largest), it becomes difficult to breathe. The bad air affects the thousands of POVERTY-STRICKEN residents that live near the dump.

(P3) The dump receives 4,000 tons of WASTE a day, that is dumped on top of the previous day’s deposit. Over the years, the city’s waste has ACCUMULATED into towering MOUNDS of garbage.

(P4) The air POLLUTION around Deonar has been particularly bad over the last few days: an ACRID, choking haze that coats the back of the throat, reddens the eyes and shortens the breath. Even still, it’s much better than it was in the hours following the morning of January 28, when huge fires ERUPTED around the site, immediately covering the area in thick, black smoke that BLOTTED OUT the sun.

(P5) An image posted by NASA showed the size of the incident, with a thick PLUME of smoke visible from space. The cause of the fires remain UNDER INVESTIGATION, though authorities say the blazes could have been started by gases from DISINTEGRATING garbage.

(P6) It was one of the worst fires that Mumbai has seen in recent years.

(P7) Deonar is home to thousands of SCAVENGERS.

(P8) Mohammed Merajul lives behind the dump. He says he would move but, he says with a SHRUG, “majboori” — he has no choice. He says that the city’s firefighters responded quickly to this emergency, but the quality of life in this poor, mostly Muslim neighborhood is terrible. “It always smells here, and we’ve lost count of the number of kids who get sick,” he says.

(P9) The biggest problem right now, he says, is a lack of clean water supplied by the government. “Sometimes we can’t bathe for four, five days.”

(P10) The government needs to put in toilets and a RELIABLE water supply system, he says. “But the government doesn’t listen to the demands of poor people.”

(P11) Jockin Arputham, president of India’s National SLUM DWELLERS Association, says that the government is DISMISSING these Mumbai residents because they’re poor.

(P12) “This dump is surrounded on three sides by slums. If these were rich people or MIDDLE CLASS people, local politicians would have come and given it attention.”

(P13) The government should close the dump, clean the land, and use it as housing for the surrounding slum dwellers, he says.

(P14) “They should LEVEL this place. (The government) has a choice — it can do something.”

(P15) When asked about complaints from the community and accusations of BIAS against Muslim residents, the government denied any bias and defended its approach, saying that Deonar is indeed a poor LOCALITY, but things are improving.

(P16) “It’s not only Muslims who live there,” says city councilor Rais Shaikh. “Bias is not a reason for the conditions there.”

(P17) “Over the last six years, this locality has improved a lot. There are better roads, there is better SANITATION, there are parks and schools. If there was a bias, those improvements would not have happened,” he adds.

(P18) Shaikh also said the goal is to reduce the amount of garbage received at the dump. “Then we want to process this waste in a scientific manner,” he said. “We can use it to convert it into energy, for example.”

WORDS: 572



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Is air pollution ever a problem where you live?
  3. Is garbage collection and removal handled well where you live, or is it sometimes a problem?
  4. Is poverty a problem in the big cities in your country? What are the poor NEIGHBORHOODS like?
  5. What is the best way for people to rise from poverty to the middle class?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Poverty-stricken
  • Blot out
  • Under investigation
  • Middle class

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