National Green Tribunal directs govt to look into Bhagtanwala issue objectively

  • Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2015 22:38 IST

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Punjab government to look into the matter pertaining to the Bhagtanwala landfill site.

In response to an “appeal for liberty to approach the state government to file objections and bring to their notice the state of affairs of deposit of municipal solid waste at Bhagwantwala of Amritsar”, the NGT in an order issued on March 3 directed the Punjab government to examine the entire matter objectively.

The government has been asked to do so expeditiously.

The development comes close on the heels of the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) planning to revive the failed solid waste management (SWM) project, the second phase of which entails the construction of a treatment plant at Bhagtanwala.

The MC, which has invited bids for the project for the fourth time since its announcement in 2009, plans to open the tenders on March 25.

The residents living around the Bhagtanwala landfill site had approached the NGT, citing violation of the MSW 2000 Rules and seeking the relocation of the dump and the proposed SWM plant to another site. The residents claimed that they were in touch with environmental scientist SR Maley who in a recent letter had said “the Bhagtanwala landfill site was not suitable for the project, as it barely had eight hectares of land”.

“As per Dr Maley’s arithmetic and the MSW 2000 rules, the MSW Processing and Disposal site should be sufficient to last for 25 years. The SWM project requires a total land area of four hectares for processing plant (composting, fuel pelletisation, plastic recycling, eco bricks) as well as a minimum of one hectare for a green belt and 24.78 hectares for a sanitary landfill for 25 years,” said Sanjay Sharma, a resident.

“Besides these, it should be far from human habitation, but in this case it is not so,” he said.

He said the project for processing treatment of garbage at Bhagtawalan was supposed to start operating by the beginning of 2010. At that time, around two lakh metric tonnes of garbage would be piled up and needed to be cleaned through the bio-remediation process.

“Total land area available at Bhagtawalan is just eight hectares. With setting up of processing project in four hectares, sanitary land filling (SLF) was also possible for about five years and suggestion was made for acquiring about 20-22 hectares land area for SLF in the nearby vicinity,” he added.

Naval Kishore, another resident of the area, said in the past five years, another 10 lakh metric tonnes of garbage had piled up, which has exhausted the site fully. “The city is generating about 600 metric tonnes per day of municipal solid waste. If MC goes for tendering to set up processing project at Bhagtawalan site, clearance of site itself can take more than four years and then only work for the project can start in 2019-2020,” he said.

However, municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said there were no issues as far as the area of the Bhagtanwala landfill site was concerned. “A company appointed by the government has conducted a thorough research on the area for well over three years for the proposed SWM plant. The MC is all set to go ahead with the project,” he said

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