The landfill fire that broke out over the weekend in Belgrade caused extreme concern among experts, citizens and the opposition, but not among the city authorities.
Belgrade Mayor Zoran Radojcic, a doctor by profession, advised people exposed to dangerous smoke from the Vinca landfill, the largest among 1,000 of such in Serbia to close windows.
The fire is localised, but the firefighters told an opposition activist it would take days before they manage to bury the flames and prevent oxygen flow because they still could not approach the fire.
Law professor and member of the opposition Assembly of Free Serbia Vesna Rakic Vodinelic told the independent Danas daily the behaviour of the city administration, especially the Mayor, was irresponsible and ruthless because they had a lot of time in power to solve the problem of the Vinca landfill.
In an interview with N1on Monday, European Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo Viola von Cramon described the fire as neglect of environmental problems in the country which was to the detriment of the citizens’ health.
She said that „they have no meaningful plan“, despite many warnings about what such fire could cause. „(The Deputy Mayor) „Goran Vesic declared (those who have been warning about the danger) them enemies or ignorants“.
„Silence about the scale of the fire, about the content and the actual amount of toxic substances and their failure to inform the citizens on time and instruct them how to protect themselves – all this is a serious environmental crime, „claims Rakic Vodinelic said.
The Belgrade authorities are legally responsible, she adds.
Radomir Lazovic of the ‘Don’t Let Belgrade Drown’ movement said he was convinced that if it wasn’t up to social networks where people shared images and videos of the fire and the media which carried them, the authorities would have kept silent, trying to hide it.
He said that Belgarders and people in its vicinity would be „exposed to a high-level of pollution for days, if not weeks.“