Cobalt-60, the radioactive substance that made its way to a Mayapuri scrap shop, is just one of the several types of hazardous waste material being dumped illegally.
In many other cases, institutions and factories are sitting on such material for years, a Delhi government survey says.
Around 63 per cent of the total hazardous waste comprising toxic chemicals and heavy metals finds its way to 47 illegal dumping sites across the city. This, because the government has failed to allot lands to make dedicated landfill sites for hazardous waste.
“Whenever we have tried allotting land, the nearby residents have protested,” said a senior official from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the city’s pollution watchdog, which prepared the report in 2007 — the only time hazardous waste was inventoried. “All our policy interventions on waste management are based on these estimates. Preparing the inventory is a massive task which is not undertaken every year.”
In 2007, the total hazardous waste generated from 35 industrial areas in Delhi was 5,281 tonnes per annum. The number could have increased by 15-25 per cent since then.
That’s not all. Even after finding out about this, the DPCC did not stop giving environmental no-objection-certificates to the setting up of hundreds of new units in the past three years.