Delhi’s daily waste burden at 11.3k tonnes, treatment slow
Delhi has a massive municipal solid waste management problem with the massive landfills at Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalswa at the centre of the issue.
Delhi generates 11,332 tonnes of solid waste every day, according to a latest estimate by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), even as the civic body said that 4,360 tonnes of this garbage ends up at the city’s three landfill sites.
According to a report by MCD and the Delhi government’s environment department,daily waste generation in the city has gone up from 11,094 tonnesin 2021-22 to 11,332 tonnes in 2022-23. The report showed that areas under MCD had the most growth in waste generation, of about 200 tonnes, while it grew by 37.27 tonnes in New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) areas and by 72 tonnes from Delhi Cantonment areas.
Delhi has a massive municipal solid waste management problem with the massive landfills at Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalswa at the centre of the issue. Despite attempts to remove at least 28 million tonnes of legacy waste dumped at these landfills, the city continues to dump fresh waste at these sites, affecting the progress of attempts to flatten the dump sites.
According to the report, the city currently processes 61.5% of the total waste it generates per day, and MCD plans to achieve 86.4% processing capacity by December this year.
The civic body uses trommelling and bio-mining to separate the waste, and burns it to generate electricity at the waste to energy plants.
The report said that Delhi generated 11,038.335 tonnes of waste every day in 2020-21 and 11,094.7 tonnes last year.
A municipal official from the department of environment management services (DEMS) or sanitation said four new waste processing projects are expected to be made operational this year, including the expansion of the waste to energy plant in Okhla, the bio-CNG plant in Okhla, a compressed bio-gas plant in north-west Delhi’s Ghogha, and the city’s first engineered landfill site.
“The Okhla waste-to-energy plant is burning 1,950 tonnes of waste, which is being raised to 2,950 tonnes every day. After several delays, we have received a clearance from the ministry of environment and forests on January 9 this year, and the project will be completed by December end,” the official said.
MCD also plans to operationalise its 300 tonnes per day bio-CNG plant in Okhla by September and a compressed bio-CNG plant in Ghogha by December later this year, he added.
The report adds that MCD plans to achieve 100% waste processing capacity, leading to zero dumping at the landfills.
A second municipal corporation official from the sanitation department said that in the long-run, the department is working on two new waste-to-energy plants at Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur. “The Narela-Bawana plant will use 3,000 tonnes of waste per day by August 2025. Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (RCUES), Lucknow, has been engaged as an advisor for setting up this 25 MW plant. We have received the bids from contractors and it is at the tender awarding stage,” the official said.
The second plant at Ghazipur which will have a capacity to burn 2,000 tonnes of waste per day is expected to come up by August 2026, for which techno-economic feasibility report is under preparation, the second official added. “The Ghazipur project is still under initial phases and a detailed project report will be created after the feasibility report,” official said.
In August last year, HT how Delhi’s garbage mountains will take 197 years to be cleared, taking into account the average 5,315 tonnes of garbage that was cleared every day in the past 34 months. In total, some 5.5 million tonnes of legacy waste had been cleared from three landfills in the same duration, but 5.1 million tonnes of new waste has been added.
Last week, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had fined Delhi ₹2,232 crore as environmental compensation for improper management of solid and liquid waste.
“On the pattern of compensation awarded in respect of other states (at the rate of ₹2 crore per million litres per day (MLD) of untreated sewage and ₹300 per tonne of untreated legacy waste), compensation of ₹3,132 crore is liable to be levied on the Delhi government — ₹990 crore for solid waste and ₹2,142 crore for solid waste,” the NGT bench said.
To be sure, management of solid waste is the responsibility of MCD, while the Delhi government manages sewage.
Atin Biswas, a waste management expert and programme director of municipal solid waste sector with Centre for Science and Environment, said that waste to energy plants should not be seen as a preferable solution for waste management especially when mixed waste is being sent to the facilities. “Dry waste component should be sent to WtE facilities but it is usually mixed with wet components such as food waste and construction waste due to which the calorific value of waste reduces. More stringent monitoring of real time data on emissions should be ensured,” he added.
- Delhi News