MCD invites bids to remove waste along rail tracks in Delhi
Around 31,000 metric tonnes of garbage have been dumped along railway tracks in Delhi, according to a joint assessment by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Indian Railways. The MCD has invited bids to clean up the areas, with the deadline set for April 2024. This initiative is part of the solid waste management action plan finalised by a committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal.
The area along railway tracks in the national capital have long been unofficial dumping grounds for municipal waste, with a joint assessment by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Indian Railways released on May 22 estimating that around 31,000 metric tonne of garbage has been dumped along railway tracks in the city.
Civic body officials on Tuesday said that as part of its efforts to spruce up the city, MCD has invited bids to clean areas along railway tracks in its Central zone, with the drive to be eventually extended to other parts of the city in the coming days. The deadline to clean the areas along the tracks in April 2024, the officials said.
“The matter regarding poor sanitation conditions along railway tracks is being heard by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). A joint inspection with Railways has also been carried out to chart out an action plan to clean the areas around railway tracks. The two main sources of garbage in these areas are railway passengers and JJ slum dwellers living along the tracks,” a senior MCD official said.
Cleaning areas along the railway lines is also a key component of the solid waste management action plan finalised by the high-level committee headed by lieutenant governor VK Saxena, that was constituted by the National Green Tribunal on February 16.
Delhi has around 140 km of railway tracks, which are surrounded by an estimated 48,000 slum dwellings.
In April, the additional divisional railway manager (ADRM) for Northern Railways asked the MCD to carry out a joint inspections to assess legacy waste along the railway tracks, in compliance with directions issued by monitoring agencies and NHRC.
In an attempt to tackle jurisdictional issues, the cost for collection, transportation and processing of waste was proposed to be borne in a 70:30 ratio by the railways and MCD.
MCD officials said the civic body has identified and mapped out the nearest dustbins, dhalaos (primary garbage receptacles), and fixed garbage compactor stations for the railways to transport the garbage away from the vicinity of the tracks.
In its May 22 report, MCD stated that there are three major challenges in removing legacy waste from along railway tracks — the non-availability of access points along the railway network, and the continuous dumping of fresh waste by residents of slum clusters along railway land.
In a pilot project, MCD and the railways cleaned around 9,000 metric tonne of legacy waste on a railway line stretch between Azadpur and Narela between July and October. However, according to the first MCD official quoted above, despite the clean-up, fresh waste continues to be dumped in these areas, and the estimated garbage along railway lines across the city as a whole is around 31,000 metric tonne.
A second civic body official said the drive needs to be carried out in coordination with railway authorities as the movement of trains needs to be considered to ensure the safety of sanitation workers. “The clean-up drive can be taken up in time slots provided by the railways or under their supervision to ensure safety of the personnel,” the official added.
HT reached out to the Northern Railways, but officials there did not respond to requests to comment on the matter.
Residents on the ground feel that little effort has been made to clean up these areas. Shamsher Singh, who heads the Friends Enclave RWA in Sultanpuri, said garbage is hardly removed from along the tracks. “It seems that beyond Peeragarhi, the city has been abandoned by the civic agencies. People live in inhuman conditions... It is claimed that the city’s JJ clusters are open defecation-free, but the reality can be seen by anyone,” he said.