MCD to provide NHAI with inert waste for construction of UER-2

Feb 20, 2023 01:16 AM IST

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide it 364,000 tonnes of inert material for the UER2 project

More than 364,000 tonnes of garbage from the Ghazipur and Okhla landfills will be used in the construction of Urban Extension Road (UER) 2, the third ring road of the Capital.

The urban extension road 2 construction site near Mohammadpur Majri in New Delhi. (HT Archive)
The urban extension road 2 construction site near Mohammadpur Majri in New Delhi. (HT Archive)

According to a senior civic official, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide it 364,000 tonnes of inert material for the UER2 project, which will be developed in two phases called package 3 and package 4.

“As much as 300,000 tonnes of inert material is sought for package 3 while 64,000 tonnes of inert will be used for package 4 of the project,” the MCD official said.

NHAI has used previously used inert material from Ghazipur and Okhla landfills for its road projects such as the DND–Faridabad expressway.

Inert material – waste which is neither chemically nor biologically reactive and will not decompose or only very slowly – will be provided from the bio-mining project at the city’s landfills. Bio-mining separates various components of legacy waste such as plastic, paper, cloth, sand and bricks by passing them through a trammel screening machine.

The three landfills in the city – Okhla, Bhalswa and Ghazipur – hold more than 28,000,000 tonnes of legacy waste and it has been estimated that 60-70% of the material recovered after trommeling and bio-mining process consists of soil, stones and inert material.

UER2 is an upcoming 75.7km-long, six-lane expressway in the Capital, which will start from National Highway-44 at Alipur, pass through Rohini, Mundka, Najafgarh, Dwarka and end at the Delhi–Gurugram Expressway on NH-48 near Mahipalpur. The project forms a semicircle on the western side of the Capital.

UER2 was conceived in 2000. It has missed several deadlines due to various issues, among them delay in land acquisition. HT reported last month that the project is expected to be completed by October 2023

An MCD official said the disposal of the inert material has been a major hurdle in the progress of the landfill clearing project and largescale utilisation of inert material in road infrastructure will give the project momentum.

The MCD has been disposing of inert material to fill the low-lying areas in the city such as Badarpur Eco park, filling of old ash pond sites in ravines of South East Delhi’s Tajpur Pahadi and other horticulture purposes.

Inert material is like dark rich soil of varying particle size. It can be used like sand for filling low-lying areas or to build the base for a road. In July last year, MCD decided to give inert soil produced at its three landfill sites free-ofcost to the public so that it can be used to fill up low-lying areas.

3.3 years later: Only 27% legacy waste cleared

40 months after the landfill bio-mining project was initiated by the three erstwhile municipal corporations, the project to flatten the city’s three landfill sites is only 27% complete, according to the latest status report from the municipal corporation dated February 16, 2023.

The landfill bio-mining project began in 2019 after an order of the National Green Tribunal.

The original order issued by NGT in July 2019 said legacy waste dumps are to be “cleared within one year but substantial progress must be made and demonstrated within six months”.

However, there have been multiple revisions and extensions of these deadlines. The latest status report, a copy of which was seen HT, said the three landfills at Okhla, Bhalswa and Ghazipur are expected to be cleared by May 2024.

When the project began in 2019, Okhla dumpsite had 6 million tonnes of legacy waste of which 2.5 million tonnes (42%) has been cleared till February 14, 2023; Bhalswa had 8 million tonnes of which 2.9 million tons (36%) has been removed. The largest landfill, east Delhi’s Ghazipur dumpsite, had the most accumulated waste – 14 million tonnes – of which only 2.22 million tonnes (16%) has been cleared.

Cumulatively, 7.6 million tonnes legacy waste has been taken out but fresh waste dumping continues to increase the overall volume of waste. In August last year, HT reported that due to this vicious cycle, civic bodies may take up to 197 years to clear the landfill sites.

An MCD official said the pace of waste removal has increased in the past year and fresh waste dumping has reduced due to operationalisation of the Tehkhand waste-to-energy plant. The municipalities had cleared 8.3% of the original legacy waste till March 2021, which rose to 17.17% by April last year and currently stands at 27.22% as on February 14, 2023.

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