While the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) proposes to throw mud on the voluminous mound of garbage that has accumulated at the Bhagtanwala dump over the years, besides constructing a boundary wall around it, the residents of the localities around the dump have trashed the idea.
They have also rejected the MC's proposal to set up a waste treatment plant here and want the dump to be moved to vacant land near the border areas.
"There is a plenty of vacant land near the border areas that can be used for dumping garbage. The government can also construct a waste treatment plant there rather than at Bhagtanwala," said Surinderjit Singh, a resident.
The residents' disapproval of the waste treatment plant and construction of a boundary wall comes regardless of the fact that Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has directed the Amritsar improvement trust to contribute `2 crore to the MC for constructing a boundary wall and a road at the dump site.
The residents want the dump to be removed at all costs. A survey conducted by the residents on their own claims that more than 100 people had succumbed to ailments caused by the proximity of the dump in the past four years, while many more were suffering from jaundice and respiratory ailments.
They attributed these diseases to the recurrent conflagration of the garbage caused by the generation of methane gas, which has made the ambient air unfit to be inhaled by the residents.
They intend to send the findings of the survey to the government for its perusal and to take necessary action. According to the residents, the problem is so intense that they are finding it hard to sleep at home at night because of which many are seeking shelter at night at the gurdwaras in the city.
"The problem has been there for the past many years, but it was ignored by the authorities. Though the MC has stopped dumping garbage here since the protest started, the noxious fumes continue to rise every now and then. This is because the immense mound of garbage generates methane on its own, which sets it afire and makes the air irrespirable," said Sanjay Sharma, one of the area residents sitting on a dharna in protest against the dump.
He added that Tuesday night was particularly difficult for the residents, especially children and the elderly folks, who faced trouble while breathing due to the noxious fumes. The residents feel that setting up a waste treatment plant would aggravate the situation, not only for the localities around the dump, but also for the entire city as the plant would come up in violation of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules-2000.
Municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said that the government was seriously mulling ways and means to resolve the issue.