Ghazipur landfill site was ticking time bomb'
New Delhi: Insensitivity and inefficiency of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) led the tragic incident that caused three deaths as the Interim Report on "Bulk Waste Generation" had earlier warned that excess filling of waste could cause disaster.
The civic agency, despite facing wrath of agencies like National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), forced Delhiites to sit on a ticking time bomb as they have completely failed to initiate measures on time. Ignoring the warnings of these environment watchdogs, the Corporation neither chalked out any plan to remove millions of tons of garbage nor stopped dumping on daily basis.
As per the report, a team comprises EDMC's Chief Engineer, Landfill Site Chief, Assistant Engineer and plant of Waste to Energy besides representatives and other concerned agencies had made a dumpsite visit in April this year. The team, in its report dated April 26, not only warned massive remission of toxic leachate and contamination of ground water resulting pollution at danger level but warned that the overflowing dumpsite is an environmental disaster waiting to happen like recent collapsing of garbage dump in Sri Lanka drilling about 18 persons living in the vicinity. Though, the report was prepared after orders of the green court but no further action was announced to tackle the menace.
Even the court, on various occasions, has asked the Corporation of other concerned agencies to reclaim the dumpsite by using the material in construction of road. The court, in its recent hearing on July 17, had directed the agencies to apprise the tribunal of the steps it has taken to lower the height of the garbage dumps at Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla landfill sites, saying these were a source of air and water pollution.
The Court, in its hearing on August 14, had directed the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and National Highway Authority India (NHAI) to invite tenders for segregation and management of waste at Ghazipur site as both the agencies had inked an MoU to use waste collected at the site for road expansion projects by the NHAI. In an effort to reclaim the over saturated-site, the EDMC had announced to execute the plan on war footing level but its slow progress invited wrath tribunal's wrath.
Another agency DPCC had earlier written EDMC's Chief Engineer regarding the issue. A letter by the DPCC, in February last year, had stated that the fires at the landfill were in violation of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. The DPCC had categorically specified that the three landfills were originally supposed to be only dumping grounds. The DPCC letter further stated: "All three landfill sites are not designed as per the MSW Rules that came into effect in 2000. The DPCC has not granted authorisation to all three landfill sites. Municipal bodies have informed that they have no other option but to use these sites for disposal of MSW as land is not available in Delhi. They said that a request has been made to DDA to allot land for landfill sites".
The sordid state of affair is that the landfill was started in 1984 in about 70-acres of land. With more than 2,100 MT of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) of city being dumped daily at Ghazipur dumpsite, the site has exceeded its limit of 20-25 metre to 45- 50 metres long ago and over 5 million tons of accumulated garbage, posing serious environmental, health and safety hazards to the neighborhood.
It is estimated that 60 per cent of the nearby population may be impacted by the dumpsite posing health risks. This daily waste being sent to the dumpsite is expected to increase to 3,200 tons by 2021. NDMC is also sending their silt taken out from drains to Ghazipur landfill site, the quantity of which was stated to be about 80 MT during March 2017. During monsoon, around 1.4 million liters per day of toxic leachate and runoff gets generated and flows into the Yamuna and also contaminates the groundwater.