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Snowstorm Pummels New York State; Investigating Trump; Power Coming Back Across Ukraine; Ukraine Joins Poland In Missile Blast Probe; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Steps Down; Iran Unrest; Pollution From India's Massive Landfills; World Cup 2022. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired November 19, 2022 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in the longest of a series of witch hunts.
HARRAK (voice-over): Trump lashes out as the U.S. attorney general looks to oversee investigations into the former president. What this means for his campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK (voice-over): Plus, a powerful snowstorm crippling parts of New York. We're live at the CNN Weather Center on where the storm is headed next.
And a live update on the investigation into the deadly missile strike in Poland.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak.
HARRAK: Donald Trump and other Republicans are lashing out against the latest move to oversee the criminal investigations he faces. The U.S. Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to take over two of the most sensitive probes involving the former president.
On Friday, U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland named veteran prosecutor Jack Smith to take over the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation. Mr. Smith has held numerous posts at the Justice Department and has served as chief prosecutor at a special court in The Hague, where he investigated war crimes.
For more on Friday's announcement from the Justice Department, here is CNN's Paula Reid in Washington.
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In certain extraordinary cases it's in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorney General Merrick Garland naming former Justice Department official Jack Smith to independently head up two major criminal investigations focused on former President Donald Trump.
The move coming days after Trump announced his third run for president. Underscoring the legal jeopardy the former president faces as CNN has learned prosecutors recently sent out a fresh round of subpoenas in both probes.
GARLAND: Based on recent developments, including the former president's announcement that he is a candidate for the next election and sitting president's stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.
REID: Jack Smith has previously served in multiple roles at the Justice Department and since 2018, he has been the chief prosecutor for the special court of The Hague, investigating war crimes in Kosovo.
He will now see the investigation into whether Mr. Trump mishandled national secrets after the FBI seized thousands of documents from his Mar-a-Lago residence in August, including some marked classified that were taken from the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They should give me immediately back everything that they've taken from me, because it's mine. It's mine.
REID: The special counsel will also now oversee aspects of the investigation into the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. And what Trump's role may have been leading up to that day.
TRUMP: And we're going to the Capitol.
REID: Justice officials had hoped that appointing a special counsel would help to insulate the Justice Department from political criticism of his ongoing investigations. But it's not clear that anything could really achieve that goal.
In fact, I spoke to a spokesman of the former president, who's already described his appointment as a political stunt -- Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.
HARRAK: Trump is giving every indication he intends to ignore the new special counsel, calling him the quote, "super radical left." Even though the DOJ investigations have been going on for months, the former president acted surprised they're still very active. Here's what he told a crowd on Friday night at his Florida resort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before we begin, I want to address the appalling announcement, today, by the egregiously corrupt Biden administration and their weaponized Department of Justice.
Would you like me to talk about that?
Larry, would you like me to talk about that?
TRUMP: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch hunts that started a long time ago. I thought the investigation with the document hoax was dying or dead or over.
And the investigation into January 6, in my very peaceful and patriotic speech, remember, peaceful and patriotically, was dead.
TRUMP: Especially after the record-setting 40 point loss of Liz Cheney, in the great state of Wyoming. I thought it was dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: Jessica Levinson is a professor of law at Loyola Law School. She joins us from Los Angeles. And she's the host of the "Passing Judgment" podcast.
Good to see you.
How is this going to impact Trump's running for president?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: I don't know it will that much. We heard him say all of this is illegitimate, any sort of indictment, he'll say, is just a political witch hunt.
So the decision to appoint a special counsel, I think it's important for the Department of Justice, it's important for people who believe in the rule of law and the independence of the Department of Justice.
But for the former president and his campaign, he's just going to keep feeding people the same diet of disinformation and say there's no there there.
HARRAK: But why bring in a special counsel right now?
Why not allow the DOJ to move forward with its investigations?
LEVINSON: I think because two things have happened. One, the midterms are now over and, two, the former president said I am a candidate for the presidency again. And so what we see here is potentially another matchup between
President Biden and former president Trump. And we have an attorney general who is appointed by one of those two men, obviously who is appointed by President Biden.
So while the Department of Justice is independent, what I think Merrick Garland recognized today is that he doesn't want it to look like a political appointee of one of the candidates.
President Biden is just trying to take down the other candidate, former president Trump. The other thing is this actually insulates attorney general Merrick Garland a little bit because now that House Republicans will be in control, they're going to have a lot of hearings about these investigations.
And if he has a special counsel, he can say, you know what, I'm not involved in these investigations anymore, I can't answer your questions. So I think there are a number of reasons why this is the timing he chose.
HARRAK: Talk to us a little bit about who is the counsel.
Who is the counsel and what can you tell us about Mr. Jack Smith?
LEVINSON: He is a former federal prosecutor. That means he worked in the Department of Justice and it would be very surprising not to have somebody without that baseline of experience.
But we also know he has experience in the public integrity unit, dealing with public corruption crimes. I think that's really significant.
He's also been abroad, working the International Criminal Court, dealing with war crimes, corruption and investigations and charges against former government officials of foreign states.
That's about as close to the experience of investigating a former president as you can possibly get. So I think, for those reasons, this particular decision makes a lot of sense.
HARRAK: And what investigations is this special counsel going to be overseeing?
LEVINSON: Great question. The special counsel is going to be looking at the two investigations involving the former president on the federal level. And so the first investigation involves the activities around January 6th, 2021.
And specifically whether or not the former president could be guilty of something like defrauding the United States by trying to thwart the peaceful transfer of power and stopping Congress from doing its duty that day, which was certifying Electoral College votes.
The other thing they're looking at is the Mar-a-Lago investigation, relating to the former president apparently illegally retaining documents that were classified and highly sensitive. Those are very different investigations. But the special counsel will be overseeing both of them.
HARRAK: And tell us a little bit about the timeframe.
What's the timeline for this?
LEVINSON: So we don't know a specific timeline and that's entirely normal. We would never know a timeline until there are filings in court. And that leaves us some bread crumbs into figuring out how much closer they are to a federal indictment.
One thing we know is, in terms of the timeline, to zoom out a little bit, the fact that a special counsel was appointed at all for both investigations accounts they are very much live and ongoing and could potentially lead to indictments.
LEVINSON: If both of these investigations were winding down, in their end stages, there really is no point for taking this historic step and appointing a special counsel.
But I think it indicates not exactly where we are in the timeline but that these are real investigations, that there's a there there, maybe not an indictment but certainly something they're looking at in both of these cases.
HARRAK: I'm sure we'll be talking again soon. Jessica Levinson, thank you so much.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
HARRAK: Some Republicans want the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel in another investigation, its probe into the foreign business dealings of President Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
Senator John Cornyn tweeted that the DOJ admitted there was a conflict of interest and he said the department must admit there's also a conflict in the Hunter Biden probe and that a special counsel should oversee it.
A potentially historic winter storm is pounding parts of the Great Lakes. Two people in New York's Erie County died after suffering cardiac events related to clearing snow.
The storm has canceled flights, halted traffic on major roadways and knocked out power as temperatures plunge. And the Buffalo region is bracing for more. Officials warn the storm could be life threatening and have called on residents to be prepared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BYRON BROWN (D-NY), BUFFALO: We do have the resources that we need to fight this storm, which has been pretty unpredictable with the snow band hovering over the south, getting ready to move back north. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: More of Ukraine's power grid is coming back online following a recent round of Russian attacks but there's new pressure from cold weather.
Plus one slice of life before the war makes a comeback to the city of Kherson, the first train since the Russian pullout from the city.
HARRAK: The lights are switching back on across Ukraine after a barrage of Russian strikes on its electrical system. The attacks knocked out almost half of the nation's energy system earlier this week, leaving 10 million people in the dark.
The Ukrainian energy research center says power has been restored to almost all consumers. But President Zelenskyy is striking a different tone, saying electoral issues still exist across the country. However, he says, they'll be fixed.
Ukrainians who survived the Russian occupation have new battles ahead to survive the winter and to rebuild. CNN's Nic Robertson went to Eastern Ukraine where Russian troops were pushed out and he found out residents are determined to get through whatever lies ahead.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): The road into Bohorodychne is a prelude for the destruction to come. Russian troops turned the church into a military base as Ukrainians forced them from the eastern village six weeks ago.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Mykola, a former firefighter, stayed, survived the Russians. Surviving the coming winter his next challenge.
ROBERTSON: He's going to show us where he's stocked the wood for the winter.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Winter here can be brutal. He's proud. He's been working hard.
ROBERTSON: All the wood's stacked up at the back there. There's a little generator here as well because there's no electricity in the village. We'll survive. We survived the Germans," he tells us, a reference to
World War II.
"I must stay, though. The Russians killed my brother. I buried him. He needs a proper service in the cemetery."
He shows me his destroyed house, tells me he'll rebuild. Mostly self- sufficient, he has his own well; although, he says the water must be boiled. His 91-year-old mother, who also refuses to leave, plans to survive the winter as she lived through the fighting in their bunker.
When she comes out, she tells us she worries about the cold, too.
"How much can you suffer?" she says.
"The matches are wet, the candles are bad. This is a torment."
Across town, Yuri is back for the first time since he left in May. His house and everything in it, 55 years of memories, destroyed.
"We had plans. We'll rebuild," he says, getting emotional and turning away.
As deminers clear his house of explosives, he sees his long lost cat. It's scared but comes back for food. They show them a grenade they found, gently tell him his beehives are all smashed.
Yuri wants to show us where he used to fish, a place of happy childhood memories, takes us onto the blown bridge. Up river, the water pumping plant he used to work at.
Can it restart, I ask?
"In principle, yes."
ROBERTSON: So what are the problems going to be?
ROBERTSON (voice-over): "The high voltage cables across the river and the transformers powering it are destroyed," he says. "It can be done if there is funding."
ROBERTSON: Every house here destroyed or heavily damaged; no water, no electricity, no shops. It's what awaits every town and village in this country if the war front rolls through them.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Dozens around here, likely hundreds around the country, battered by each wave of this war.
ROBERTSON: And as long as the war goes on, there will be more and more towns and villages like this. Restoring them this winter, so unlikely. It's not even clear if they can be rebuilt, reconnected to the power grid for people to come back to them and have semi-normal lives, even by next year.
It's not just the electricity, the gas, the communications that are getting downgraded through this winter; it is the country itself. It is going to take so much to rebuild and restore Ukraine -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Kyiv, Ukraine.
HARRAK: There's no letup in Russian efforts to gain ground in Eastern Ukraine. Kyiv says Russian troops launched new attacks across the region's front lines on Friday and that includes in Bakhmut. But despite that, Ukrainian defense lines are holding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Military action of extreme violence is still ongoing in the Donetsk region. No softening of the fighting or lulls. In the past 24 hours, about 100 Russian assaults have been aborted in the Donetsk region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: Meanwhile, Ukraine says this is the sign of ordinary life coming back to the newly liberated city of Kherson. The first train bound for that city left the capital of Kyiv on Friday, just a week after the Russian pullout from Kherson.
The Ukrainian officials are taking part in the investigation into a deadly missile blast in Poland. Ukraine's foreign minister says they've joined the U.S. and Polish investigators at the site of the explosion.
Ukraine has been pushing to join the group after the missile hit a Polish border village on Tuesday, killing two people. Poland and NATO says it was likely an accident caused by a stray Ukrainian missile.
HARRAK: But Western officials also said that Russia is ultimately to blame because it started the war in Ukraine. For more, we're joined now by Scott McLean from London.
Scott, we understand there there's been no letup in the fighting in the Donetsk region.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's hard to tell where the front lines lie. But we know fighting has really intensified in the eastern part of the country and some of the heaviest fighting is around the village of Bakhmut.
It's on the front lines in the Donetsk region that has taken an absolute pounding in the past few months. It's been front and center as the Russians have been trying to take it for a long time now.
Miraculously, it still remains in Ukraine's hands. Also the newly liberated city of Kherson is right across the Dnipro River from the city of Kherson. So the Russians are also digging in in that area to try to defend their positions across the river.
But according to a British analysis of the situation, the Russians are most likely to take a lot of the troops that had withdrawn from Kherson city and actually redeploy them to the eastern part of the country, to try to take Bakhmut and other villages in the region.
So while the momentum broadly speaking seems to be the with Ukrainians, the Russians are not going to make it easy for them anytime soon.
HARRAK: And, Scott, what's the latest on the investigation into the missile that landed in Poland and killed two people?
MCLEAN: As you mentioned, Ukrainian investigators are on the site. There have been sightings of Ukrainian vehicles bearing diplomatic plates that we believe are the experts who have shown up at the site of that missile strike, four miles inside the Ukrainian border on Polish territory.
This is something Ukrainians have been calling for since the strike took place on Tuesday. Earlier this week it was actually a Polish official who said the Ukrainian experts would be able to observe the investigation.
But giving them access to all of the information, to all of the documents was perhaps legally a bit more tricky. The foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said he was grateful for the Poles allowing the Ukrainian experts on to the site, saying they'll continue to collaborate constructively and openly.
As you mentioned, the strike happened on Tuesday. And initially the Poles said that this was most likely fired by Ukrainians amidst a Russian barrage of missiles on Ukrainian territory.
Of course, missile defense systems were trying to strike the missiles down and the initial assessment was this was a Ukrainian missile that misfired and landed on NATO soil. The NATO secretary general said their investigation found largely the same thing.
But what's interesting is President Zelenskyy had initially ruled out the possibility that this was a Ukrainian missile, although, he seems to be softening his stance slightly, saying he needs more information, to have all of the data to figure out precisely what happened. Laila.
HARRAK: Scott McLean reporting. Thank you so very much.
Why has Moscow locked down on hitting Ukraine's power grid?
One longtime Kremlin watcher says there's more than one reason. Stay tuned for that in the next hour.
Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. House is poised for new leadership. Kevin McCarthy faces hurdles on the path to the next speakership while Democrats will look to who will replace Nancy Pelosi as party leader.
Plus Kim Jong-un chooses a strange opportunity to reveal his daughter to the world. How world leaders are reacting to the latest provocation from North Korea ahead.
HARRAK: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
An angry Donald Trump says the appointment of a special counsel to take over the investigations into the former president is nothing more than dirty politics. Attorney general Merrick Garland said he made the appointment based on recent developments, including Mr. Trump's announcement that he'll run for the White House again.
Prosecutor Jack Smith will oversee the investigation into government documents that were taken to Mr. Trump's Florida home after his presidency.
He will also handle key aspects of the January 6th probe, including efforts to obstruct the transfer of power. Mr. Trump is calling it a, quote, "horrendous abuse of power and the latest in a series of witch hunts."
More Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have announced they will run for top leadership spots.
Hakeem Jeffries has launched his bid for House minority leader, while Katherine Clark will seek the House minority whip position. And Pete Aguilar will run for Democratic caucus chairman. If Jeffries is elected, he would be the first-ever Black party leader in Congress. Manu Raju has more on the obstacles House Republicans are facing.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now Kevin McCarthy wants to be the next Speaker of the House. But he still does not have the votes to get there. He did get the support from the House Republican conference earlier in the week, when 188 of his members voted to nominate him to be the speaker.
But that doesn't make you the Speaker. In order to get the gavel, you need to be elected by a majority of the full House. That means 218 votes you'll need in January to get there. Right now he's working behind the scenes to lock down the votes.
But he had a problem, a math problem he's trying to resolve, because there are some members of the hard right faction known as the Freedom Caucus that are withholding the support.
In fact there are two members considered hardnosed right now, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona. Both say they cannot support the speaker. Others voting against McCarthy as well, Matt Rosendale of Montana. Also Bob Goode, a Virginia Republican telling me that McCarthy does not have the votes to get there.
But they have not completely shut the door to ultimately supporting him. The reason this is an issue for McCarthy is he's expected to have a narrow majority. We don't know the final numbers yet but could be in the 220-222 range.
RAJU: Which means he can only lose a handful of votes to become the speaker. That is what's happening on the Republican side.
On the Democratic side, things are bit smoother in the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi's decision to step aside after 20 years of dominating and running her caucus. Now there's a leadership transition underway. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, is poised to become the first Black leader of any party in Congress.
Now his party is getting behind him for the top job as the Democratic leader in the minority in the new Congress. And we expect number 2 to be Katherine Clark from Massachusetts and number 3 to be Pete Aguilar, all members of a different generation than the current trio, Pelosi, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Clyburn himself wants to be the number 4 leader in the new Congress. Those issues will play out November 30th, when the Democrats elect their new leadership team.
After internal feuding led to Mitch McConnell ultimately once again being re-elected as Republican leader after their disappointing performance and the Democrats retaining control of the U.S. Senate, all this playing out in the final days here of this Congress before the new Congress comes in January -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.
HARRAK: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to meet next hour with Thailand's prime minister. She been in Bangkok representing the U.S. at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which just concluded.
Chinese president Xi Jinping is also there. And on Saturday the two spoke briefly. Afterward the vice president tweeted, during their exchange, she reiterated the importance of open communications to manage competition between the two countries.
Harris also condemned North Korea's missile launch of Friday, state media claim it's a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that flew threw for 1,000 kilometer before landing in the sea. Kim Jong-un watched the launch with his daughter, the first time she was ever seen in public. Paula Hancocks reports.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kim Jong-un introduces his daughter to the world, holding her hand as he guides the launch of the country's most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea claims it tested a new type of ICBM, Kwasong-17, on Friday. His wife and child at his side, Kim is quoted as saying he'll react to the nukes with nuclear weapons and total confrontation with all-out confrontation, pointing firmly at the United States and, quote, "other hostile forces."
Japan's defense minister said this ICBM could theoretically travel more than 15,000 kilometers or 9,300 miles if fired at a regular angle, meaning it could hit mainland United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANKIT PANDA, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I don't think this necessarily represents a game changer. We know that North Korea has the ability to range the continental United States for more than five years now. So the basic picture between the United States and North Korea remains the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Forces at the U.S. Misawa Air Base in Japan were ordered to shelter in place shortly after the launch.
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This kind of (INAUDIBLE) most recently is a brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security resolutions. It destabilizes security in the region and unnecessarily raises tensions.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Vice President Harris met with allied leaders on the sidelines of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand. All condemned the launch and vowed to work closely together.
Physical responses were swift. Japan dispatched their craft, an F-15, filming this, what they believe to be the contrails or vapor trails of the ballistic missile.
The U.S. and South Korean air forces took to the area in a joint drill, simulating aerial strikes on mobile missile launches.
The launch follows strong words from North Korea's foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, who warned the U.S. of a fiercer military counter action and condemned President Biden's discussions about Kim Jong-un's missile program at the G20 summit earlier this week.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident China's not looking for North Korea to engage in further escalatory means.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): By the North Korea continues to break its own record for firing missiles with 34 days of launches this year -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
HARRAK: Videos on social video appear to show the historic home of the late Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, on fire. They pro-reform activist outlet, IranWire, says anti-government protesters torched the building, which was converted into a museum following his death in 1989. But Iranian state media denies the incident happened and it posts a
video showing what they describe as a, quote, "normal situation" outside the home.
HARRAK: Meantime, UNICEF reports children losing their lives in Iran is terrifying and must stop. UNICEF pointed to the death of a 9-year- old boy who was shot while traveling in a car with his family during Wednesday's protest in a southwestern city in Iran.
As COP27 goes into overtime, cutting methane emissions is a top priority. We'll see why it can be a matter of life or death in a developing world.
Plus the countdown to the World Cup, Qatar 2022. The Gulf nation wanted the spotlight but now finds itself under the microscope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK (voice-over): Climate activists in Sharm El Sheikh say they're trying to let COP27 delegates know the depth of their feelings on global warming. The two-week conference has gone into overtime, as negotiators seek a breakthrough on outstanding issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: India is one of the largest emitters of methane gas in the world. But it has declined to join over 100 other countries in signing a global methane pledge. India's massive landfills are a big part of the problem. Vedika Sud reports on how they're endangering the lives of people living near them.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Seventy-two-year-old shopkeeper Narayan Choudhary suffers from chronic asthma. He says he almost died in April this year after the landfill behind his house which is the size of a village caught fire.
NARAYAN CHOUDHARY, SHOPKEEPER (through translator): It was a massive blade. It was difficult to survive.
CHOUDHARY (through translator): My face and nose started swelling. I was gasping for breath. I could barely drink or eat. SUD: Choudhary says had it not been for his friend who rushed him to hospital, he wouldn't be here today. It was a dangerous combination of methane, unsegregated garbage and record high temperatures earlier this year that sparked massive fires not only at the Bhalswa landfill but also here at one of Asia's biggest dump sites.
Government data from 2019 says this Ghazipur landfill is almost stories tall and the size of s soccer fields. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas and one company GHGSat found on a single day in March as trash decomposed more than two metric tons of methane gas leaked every hour from the Ghazipur landfill.
STEPHANE GERMAIN, CEO, GHGSAT: When we take all the measurements that we took over a period of about a year, we found that the total emissions were equivalent to emissions from approximately 350,000 U.S. passenger vehicles per year.
SUD: And methane emissions aren't the only hazard. Dangerous toxins from landfills seep into the ground polluting the water supply for thousands of residents living nearby.
That's the color of the water, a pale, dirty yellow and we're barely hundred meters away from the foothill of the landfill.
In May, CNN commissioned two accredited labs to test the groundwater around the Bhalswa landfill. The result, the groundwater within at least a 500-meter radius around the wayside is contaminated. According to the labs, it's unfit for drinking.
In the first lab report, the total dissolves solids from all three samples were off the charts. Amid other parameters, levels of ammonia and sulfate was significantly higher than acceptable limits mandated by the Indian government.
Results from the second lab report were equally worrying. Also iron traces in the first sample for both lab reports were at least eight times more than the permissible limit. And while authorities bring in a supply of clean water, residents say they're simply not enough for this densely populated neighborhood and that they must buy and consume purified water.
As part of his Clean India Initiative, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said efforts are being made to remove these mountains of garbage and convert them into green zones.
That goal if achieved could stem the suffering of those residents living in the shadows of these dump sites and go a long way to curb the massive amounts of methane being released into the atmosphere.
With more than 3,100 landfills, the task is monumental and so far unrealized. And if decisive action isn't taken soon, the consequences on the global climate fight could be catastrophic and the toll on human life unimaginable -- Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRAK: Well, based on our findings, CNN sent a series of questions to India's environment, health and water ministries. So far, there's been no response from the three ministries.
We'll be right back.
HARRAK: The start of Qatar 2022 is just a day away and it's set to be a historic World Cup, the first ever to be held in the Arab world.
HARRAK: And before we go, for hours we've been telling you about the huge snowfall in parts of the U.S. It's still a month before the start of winter.
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HARRAK (voice-over): But check out the lighting and fireworks in Chicago as the Windy City starts the holiday season.
And in Washington, the Capitol Christmas tree has been trucked in, ready to be fixed in place and trimmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: I'm Laila Harrak. I'll be back in just a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM.