Delhi govt on course to remove mountains of garbage: CM Kejriwal

ByAlok KN Mishra
Oct 01, 2023 04:32 AM IST

Delhi is sitting on around 27 million tonne of waste across three landfills at Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal inspected the Bhalswa landfill in north Delhi on Saturday and said over 4.5 million tonne of garbage will be removed from the site by May 15, 2024. Kejriwal said that nearly 35 acres of land will subsequently be reclaimed, adding that the work was progressing at a fast pace.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal during his visit to Bhalswa landfill in Delhi on Saturday. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal during his visit to Bhalswa landfill in Delhi on Saturday. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)

“We promised the people of Delhi that we would remove the garbage hills in Delhi. The target was set to remove 1.4 million tonne of garbage from Bhalswa by September 30. The agency has already removed more than 1.8 million tonne. With this speed, it is expected that by May 15, 2024, instead of the designated target of 3 million tonne, 4.5 million tonne of garbage will be removed,” Kejriwal said.

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Delhi is sitting on around 27 million tonne of waste across three landfills at Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla.

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Clearing Delhi’s garbage mountains was the first of the 10 “guarantees” that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made in the run-up to the civic polls in December 2022. After winning the elections, the AAP-led MCD on March 3 this year announced that the project has been expedited, with a target to clear Okhla by December 2023, Bhalswa by March 2024, and Ghazipur by December 2024.

The erstwhile three municipal corporations in July 2019 began an ambitious project to clear the three landfills in Delhi through the process of biomining after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered that the Capital’s legacy waste dumps be cleared within a year.

HT had reported on September 24 that four years on, since the AAP came to power, the process to clear these “garbage mountains” at Okhla, Bhalswa, and Ghazipur has made little headway — the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s latest progress report dated July 31 this year noted that the civic body has been able to clear 8,999,000 tonne of legacy waste — less than a third of the original 28,000,000 tonne of legacy waste.

Kejriwal said the work at Bhalswa began in November last year and the goal was to remove approximately 3 million tonne within the next 18 months. By September 30, 2023, the target was to remove around 1.4 million tonne.

“It is reported that approximately 6 to 6.5 million tonne of garbage are at the Bhalswa landfill site. In addition to this, the site receives about 2,000 tonne of new garbage daily. The process of hiring another agency is underway so that both agencies can work together to completely clear the site,” Kejriwal said.

Earlier, an MCD officer associated with the landfill projects had said that over the last year, from July 2022 to July 2023, 3,553,000 tonne of waste was biomined from the three landfills, but around 2,226,000 tonne of fresh waste was dumped there in the same period, making for slow progress.

Another senior MCD official had said the Okhla and Bhalswa deadlines were unrealistic. “The progress of biomining operations further slowed down due to the rainy season,” the official said. Biomining is a process through which various components of legacy waste, such as plastic, paper, cloth, sand, and bricks are separated by passing them through trommel machines, which act as cylindrical rotating sieves.

The chief minister also said that a second agency will be hired to remove the remaining garbage after the 4.5 million tonne is removed. “We are waiting for the Supreme Court’s order regarding this after which elections for the standing committee will be held. Tenders cannot be issued without the recommendation of the standing committee, so this is stuck in a legal process,” Kejriwal said.

The CM has planned to visit the other two landfill sites as well.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party Delhi chief Virendra Sachdeva visited the Ghazipur landfill site and claimed that the work on waste disposal was progressing at a snail’s pace. The Ghazipur landfill is the largest among the three landfill sites.

“When BJP was in power in MCD, around 4,500 tonne of garbage was processed every day, now under AAP only around 1,300 tonne is processed out of the 2,450 tonne dumped daily. It is leading to the creation of a new mountain of waste at the landfill site,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva claimed that the work at Ghazipur has stopped for the past eight months, adding that less than 10,000 metric tonne of garbage is disposed of daily from Ghazipur. He said that about 2,500 MT of garbage was being added to the Ghazipur landfill every day, resulting in a new garbage mountain.

Meanwhile, experts said that the disposal of fresh municipal solid waste at dumps was still a matter of grave concern. “While it’s good that efforts are underway, there is a pressing need to develop comprehensive strategies to manage fresh waste. Unfortunately, Delhi has lagged behind in this regard, with questionable collection coverage and a lack of recycling and treatment facilities,” said Richa Singh, programme manager, solid waste management and circular economy, Centre for Science and Environment.

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