Process to flatten Delhi’s landfills slowest at Ghazipur, fresh dumping goes on | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Process to flatten Delhi’s landfills slowest at Ghazipur, fresh dumping goes on

Apr 23, 2024 05:26 AM IST

An MCD report said that of the 28 million tonnes of legacy waste at Delhi’s three landfill sites, 11.9 million tonnes was cleared since July 2019

An ongoing process to flatten Delhi’s three landfills is progressing slowest at Ghazipur, according to a progress report submitted by MCD to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in February this year.

Smoke billows out of the landfill due to the fire on Monday. (PTI)
Smoke billows out of the landfill due to the fire on Monday. (PTI)

The report said that of the 28 million tonnes of legacy waste at Delhi’s three landfill sites — Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla —11.9 million tonnes was cleared since July 2019. Of the remaining 17.2 million tonnes (current estimate of waste at sites including fresh waste), Ghazipur holds the maximum 8.40 million tonnes with the MCD clearing only 2.25 million tonnes since trommels were deployed in 2019.

In comparison, 5.8 million tonnes has been removed from Bhalswa and 3.927 million tonnes was cleared from Okhla in the same duration, the report said. Currently, Bhalswa landfill holds 5.45 million tonnes of legacy waste and Okhla has 3.4 million tonnes of waste.

Biggest, oldest landfill in Delhi

Delhi started dumping waste at Ghazipur in 1984, earmarking a 70-acre site for waste management in the city. Ideally, the Ghazipur site should have closed in 2002, but in the absence of a new site, waste dumping continues even now. The garbage mountain reached a height of 50 metres in September 2017. That year, a major section of the dump collapsed after heavy rains in the Capital. Nearly 50 tonnes of garbage came crashing down like an avalanche that swept away a car and three two-wheelers on a nearby road, killing two people and injuring five.

However, the height of the dumpsite continued to rise, and by May 2019, when the National Green Tribunal intervened in the matter, the landfill had accumulated over 14 million tonnes of legacy waste reaching a height of 65 metres -- just eight metres short of the iconic Qutub Minar.

Work on to clear waste

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi government launched the process of biomining at the landfill, which is basically a process of separating various waste components such as plastic, paper, cloth, sand, and bricks by passing them through large cylindrical trommel machines. An MCD official said that 58 trommel machines are currently deployed at the three landfill sites — 22 at Bhalswa, 25 Ghazipur, and 11 at Okhla.

An MCD official said that fresh dumping of waste continued at the landfill site, slowing down any net progress in clearing legacy waste. MCD data shows that more than 1.16 million tonnes of fresh garbage was dumped at the site between July 2022 to February 2024.

“The performance of the contractor at the Ghazipur landfill site has been slow, and we have issued several warnings. The company is facing internal challenges. Meanwhile, we are unable to hire new companies as the MCD standing committee is not in place,” the official said.

Procedural hurdles

The constitution of the powerful 18-member committee that controls the purse strings of the civic body has been stuck in the political battle between the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party at MCD as well as legal challenge to the appointment of the 10 aldermen by Delhi lieutenant governor. Every project involving expenditure of more than 5 crore has to be approved by standing committee which explains the delay in the appointment of a new concessionaire to operate the trommel machine at Ghazipur.

The MCD report showed that the biomining process at Ghazipur was be slowest of the three dumpsites. The civic body has already pushed the deadlie to flatten garbage dump from December 2024 to 2026.

What experts say

Siddharth Singh programme manager of Environmental Governance and Solid Waste Management at Centre for Science and Environment, said landfill fires are not new for Delhi. It has become the annual air pollution season, he said.

“We talk about this issue when the landfills are on fire but we forget about them when situation is under control. As a long-term solution, the segregation of waste at household level is one of the key areas that a city like Delhi needs to focus on. A lot of attention and funds have been mobilised towards remediation of dumpsites. It is happening but not at a desired pace. On the other hand, dumping fresh waste further slows down the process,” he said.

Bharati Chaturvedi, environmentalist and founder of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group said that a lot of the blame also goes to the citizens of Delhi. “In large parts of the city, people are not being responsible in segregating their waste. People are not getting away as they are breathing their own waste. this also indicates very poor levels of citizenship. People should compost. We cant simply put everything on the municipality. Some RWAs are making a lot of effort to become zero waste areas and rest should follow,” she said.

Politics continues

Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said, “I am also a resident of Mayur Vihar. The AAP and Arvind Kejriwal had announced that they would remove this landfill by December 2023, but there is corruption here. Twenty-five machines should have been deployed but only are operational. Who is responsible? New tender is not being floated as standing committee has not been formed. The day BJP government is formed in Delhi, all three landfills in Delhi will be removed within a year,” Sachdeva said.

Reacting to allegations of the slow pace of work, Delhi minister Atishi said the size of the garbage mountains in Delhi is continuously going down since the AAP government came in power in MCD. “The height is going down at a fast pace which has not been seen in the past. But, it will take some time for the AAP government to clear the mess that the BJP has created during its 15 years rule in the MCD.”

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