A year since the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the administration to ensure proper waste disposal at Bandhwari plant, leachate (contaminated water) is still flowing into the Aravallis.
The leachate is getting collected in a large pit and has formed a polluted pond.
The 30-acre waste treatment plant is located on the Gurgaon-Faridabad road near the Asola Sanctuary, an ecologically important area. Also, according to a report of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) in 2008, groundwater from the Bandhwari plant flows outwards in all directions. Thus, it is a major recharge zone for downstream areas in most directions. This also signifies the ecological importance of the area where the plant is located.
Over 800 tonnes of waste is dumped every day at the plant, which is not being treated since 2013 as the plant is defunct.
On visiting the area on Sunday, the HT team found that the plant is completely filled with leachate. Pits have been dug inside the plant to keep the leachate. However, the contaminated black-coloured water was found leaking and has formed a small pit just near the boundary wall. Further, a pond measuring 100mx20m, which was formed a year ago has also been revived following the recent spells of rain.
Though the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon in July had replied in a letter to the forest department that the damage to the Aravallis has been reversed, the existence of the pond shows the apathy of the civic body towards saving the forest.
However, MCG officials said they are taking necessary steps to stop the spread of leachate.
“We are cleaning the area at regular intervals. Every 15 days, we are removing the leachate from the area. This is just a temporary measure. We are working on a plan to decentralise the process of waste management. Although we failed to clean the area this fortnight because of traffic issues and flooding of the city, we will start the process of cleaning it again soon,” TL Satyaprakash, MCG commissioner, said.
In October, the tribunal, hearing a plea filed by environmentalists Vivek Kamboj and Amit Chaudhery, had directed the state to ensure that the waste is disposed of in a scientific manner.
The forest department said they will now look into the issue. “We will inspect the area on Monday and prepare a report. We had earlier asked the MCG to dispose of the waste in a scientific manner and failure to do so necessitates implementation of the forest conservation act (FCA) to check deforestation and conserve forests,” MD Sinha, conservator of forest, south Haryana circle, said.
“We will place the evidence before the court this time,” Vivek Kamboj, an environmentalist who had filed a case regarding this issue in NGT last year, said.
Activists alleged that the civic bodies are deceiving the court by making pits inside the plant to store the leachate. “The purpose is getting defeated as the water seeps into the ground and further contaminates the water table,” Jitender Bhadana, a member of NGO Save Aravallis, said.
The petition states that Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon and the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad are disposing of waste in the open, in an ecologically fragile, forest area of the Aravallis.
HT had earlier reported about the contamination due to leachate from the plant and the deteriorating groundwater quality. Also, groundwater supplied to neighbouring Dera village has turned yellow in colour, with a stench and a soapy layer on top.