Centre, Delhi agencies to huddle next week, talk flattening landfills
A senior East MCD official confirmed said that the meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban affair (MoHUA), will be held on Monday and will also be attended by officials from Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and Delhi government’s urban development department and environment ministry
Over a week after a massive fire broke out at Ghazipur landfill and continued for almost three days before it was doused, the Central government has called a meeting of the commissioners of the three municipal bodies in Delhi and other associated government agencies to ensure time-bound remediation of the three landfills in Delhi.
A senior East MCD official confirmed said that the meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban affair (MoHUA), will be held on Monday and will also be attended by officials from Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and Delhi government’s urban development department and environment ministry. “The main agenda of the meeting is early and time bound remediation of the three landfill sites -- Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalswa -- along with solutions to various hurdles faced in the project,” the official said requesting anonymity.
The meeting was originally scheduled on Friday but was deferred by three days. “Our first priority in the Monday meeting will be to highlight the need for allocation of a new dumping site to prevent fresh garbage dumping in Ghazipur and space for storing inert material. Funds and space will be needed to carry out this mammoth task,” said a senior EDMC official.
The biggest of Delhi’s landfills, the Ghazipur site is considered to be the tallest garbage mound in the country. It was estimated to hold over 14 million tonnes of legacy waste accumulated over the last 38 years. The fire broke out at the landfill on March 28 and continued for nearly three days, polluting the air in the neighbouring region and causing much public outrage.
A senior EDMC official overseeing the bio-mining operation at Ghazipur said that 960,000 tonnes of legacy waste has already been removed from the landfill since September 2019, at a daily average of 2,000 tonnes a day, but noted that the corporations continue to dump around 2,200 tonnes of fresh garbage each day.
A senior EDMC official said that the pandemic lockdowns, halting of bio-mining during monsoons and space crunch to dispose inert material have led to several delays in the action plan.
While launching the second phase of the government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) on January 10 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised on the importance of wiping out the “mountains of garbage” from cities by processing legacy waste. “When I am speaking about clearing these huge mounds of garbage from cities, there is one such mountain of garbage in Delhi too. It has been sitting here for years and waiting to be removed,” he said, in an apparent reference to the Ghazipur landfill.
Before starting the National Green Tribunal (NGT) mandated bio-mining project in July 2019, the three landfill sites cumulatively had 28 million tonnes of legacy waste. According to the revised NGT deadlines, the Bhalswa landfill needs to be cleared by December 2023, Okhla landfill by March 2023 and Ghazipur landfill by December 2024. The project is already running way behind the original deadlines.
The EDMC official overseeing the bio-mining operation said that the civic body is expected to increase the daily bio-mining target to 5,500 tonnes per day, with the installation of high-capacity trommeling machines. “The monthly bio-mining will go up from 36,000-40,000 tonnes per month to over 160,000 tonnes per month. The old bio-mining machines, which were installed in 2019, are also being upgraded. We will also be pushing for waiver of ECC (environmental compensation charge) and toll tax on trucks that carry inert material to UP and Haryana to make their disposal more economical. In some cases, NHAI is willing to use the inert material from bio-mining for road construction but these taxes make transportation unfeasible,” the official said.
EDMC mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal said the corporation has issued tenders for the removal of five million tonnes of waste by a single private company which will also develop an engineered landfill site on a 10-acre recovered site and set up a leachate plant . “We are committed to clear the landfill by December 2024,” he said.
SDMC officials stated that 25 trommeling machines are currently installed at Okhla landfill and about 1.25 million tonnes of legacy waste has already been bio-mined. “As per the bio-mining action plan, the number of trommel machines shall be increased continuously,” an official said, adding that the landfill is expected to be cleared by December 2023.
At Bhalswa landfill, 44 trommel machines have been installed and more than 2 million tonnes of legacy waste has been cleared till March end, said an official.