The maintenance of the defunct Bandhwari waste management plant cost the state government more than Rs25 lakh in 15 months, the response to a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed. The plant has been lying defunct for the last four years and environmentalists believe that money spent on its maintenance is wasted.
Replying to the RTI query in February, the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad stated, “As the (Bandhwari) plant is not operational (currently), no expenditure is being incurred for the recycling work. However, the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad has to meet the expenses for managing the landfill site.”
The response to the RTI query further revealed that between September 2015 and December 2016, Rs1,55,925 was spent on supplying drinking water, Rs 21,79,430 on ensuring security of the plant and Rs2,06,056 on diesel for a generator set.
It was further stated that operations at the plant had been suspended since a major fire broke out in November 2013. Only the dumping of waste is being done at the landfill site and this work is managed jointly by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad.
Aseem Takyar, a Gurgaon resident, had filed an RTI query seeking information on how much money was being spent on the defunct plant, which is also seen as one of the main contributors of pollution in the area.
MCG officials also spend Rs3.5 lakh every month for composting the waste on the landfill site with bio-culture sprays.
“We had to spend money on clean water to remove the leachate in the Bandhwari area over the last two years. We also had to procure diesel for this job. As leachate is considered harmful for the environment, the municipality had to double up efforts to remove it. We also have to ensure security of the plant,” Anil Mehta, senior executive engineer, Municipal Corporation of Faridabad, said.
Located on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road, the Bandhwari plant has turned into a dumping ground of waste churned out by Gurgaon and Faridabad. While the 32-acre plant is capable of handling only 600 tonnes of garbage every day, it receives nearly ,500 tonnes on a daily basis.
Environmentalists said that the civic body is not only wasting money on the defunct plant, but also risking an environmental disaster. “There should not be a waste treatment plant in the Aravalli region. The plant is in violation of several environmental norms and is also a major source of pollution in the area,” Vivek Kamboj, an environment activist, said.
Jitender Bhadana, an environment activist and member of Save Aravalli, an NGO, said, “The defunct plant is having an adverse impact on the forest area. The government spends huge amount of money on maintaining a plant that is of no use.”
However, experts helping the MCG maintain the plant claimed that the expenses incurred to remove leachate and ensure maintenance have gone down recently.
Raagini Jain, a solid waste management expert associated with the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and working at the Bandhwari plant since last November as a consultant deputed by the MCG, said, “The use of GE Culture or vermiculture microbes has drastically reduced the expenses for maintaining the plant. We’ve also cut down on the machines that were used earlier.”