It was touted as ‘Millennium City’ with all the trappings — swank apartments, malls, big-ticket corporate houses (some 200 of the Fortune 500 companies are represented) and much more.
But the glitzy façade is fast giving way. There’s garbage everywhere. Even if you cannot see it, you can smell it.
And that’s because — believe it or not — this city of 1.6 million residents with a daily solid waste generation of 400-450 metric tonnes does not have a single garbage disposal facility.
This, despite the fact that it was in the late ’70s that Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) officials started giving out licences to private developers to set up townships like DLF City, Sushant Lok, Palam Vihar and Southcity, among others.
HUDA officials appear clueless when asked about their failure to develop garbage disposal facilities while planning new townships. “I have joined as HUDA administrator recently. I can’t comment on the decisions taken in the past,” says HUDA administrator G. Anupama.
With no landfill site available, HUDA officials are not only dumping the garbage on vacant plots in the vicinity of inhabited localities but they have also converted a stretch of the Aravalli reserved forest for disposing of solid waste.
The municipal solid waste generated in Gurgaon everyday amounts to 400-450 tonnes, or 281 grams per person. This includes everything from household garbage to industrial and medical waste. Though the figure is far below the per capita waste generation figure for Delhi (471 grams), Gurgaon seems entirely incapable of handling its waste.
After residents took to the streets and exerted pressure on the administration, the authorities have earmarked a site for a solid waste management facility in Bandwari village.
The Haryana government got environment clearance for setting up this facility way back in November 2007 but nothing has moved since then.
Gurgaon has also witnessed an unprecedented dengue outbreak this year. And the most vulnerable are people living in posh localities such as DLF, Sushant Lok and other affluent HUDA sectors.
Former Union minister Vasant Sathe, who has lived in Sushant Lok for over a decade, blames both government authorities as
well as the private developers.
“The main problem is that both sides are passing the buck. While those responsible for the mess are not held accountable, the residents continue to suffer,” says Sathe.
The former minister also blames private developers for the problem. “They could have joined hands for waste management, without waiting for the government to do so,” he says.
Jyoti Sagar, noted corporate lawyer and a DLF City resident, says that it is HUDA, which amassed about Rs 3000 crore as external development charges (EDC) from developers in the name of providing basic infrastructure, which has ultimately failed to do its job.