But “political will has not materialized into financing,” he said, adding that waste management is not an issue voters hold politicians accountable for.
At the Ghazipur dump in Rammurti’s village, which opened in 1984, paid employees rattled off horrific health conditions. The translucent, sea-foam-colored masks that workers wear provide little protection. Pus-filled skin infections, suffocating asthma attacks and heart arrhythmias are common.
“The dirty air gets inside my body and my blood,” said Ankit Yadav, 17, who lives next to the dump.
Some in the area questioned why the dump continued to grow despite government promises to finally shut it down after last year’s fatalities.
“We are fourth-class citizens,” said Mohammed Ismail, 66, a small-business owner. “Nobody listens to us. We die like insects. If this colony had been a V.I.P. colony, the dump would have been removed.”
Ratan Kumar Barua, a resident who cannot afford to relocate, said he and his neighbors were at loggerheads with the government. He said he had made written complaints to the local police and government, a court body, a pollution control committee and Mr. Modi. They have all gone unanswered.
“Nobody will come to our rescue,” Mr. Barua said.
On a recent day, trucks rumbled up a steep dirt road to the top of the garbage pile, where crows blotted out the sun and wind kicked up fumes from moldy vegetables and feces discarded in saggy plastic bags.