PM Modi says ‘garbage mountains’ need to be wiped out

Indirectly alluding to the Ghazipur landfill, one of the largest dumps in India, Modi said, “While on the subject of clearing these huge mounds of garbage from cities, there is one such mountain of garbage in Delhi too. It has been sitting there for years, waiting to be removed.”
Dubbed the tallest waste mountain in the country — in 2019, before bio-mining began in Ghazipur, the mounds were as high as 65 metres, just eight shorter than the Qutub Minar. (REUTERS File)
Dubbed the tallest waste mountain in the country — in 2019, before bio-mining began in Ghazipur, the mounds were as high as 65 metres, just eight shorter than the Qutub Minar. (REUTERS File)
Updated on Oct 02, 2021 05:24 AM IST
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ByParas Singh, New Delhi

While launching the second phase of government’s flagship programme, Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid emphasis on wiping out the “mountains of garbage” from India’s cities by processing all legacy waste.

Indirectly alluding to the Ghazipur landfill, one of the largest dumps in India, Modi said, “While on the subject of clearing these huge mounds of garbage from cities, there is one such mountain of garbage in Delhi too. It has been sitting there for years, waiting to be removed.”

Urban affairs minister Hardeep Puri, who was also at the event, was seen nodding in agreement as the PM spoke.

Dubbed the tallest waste mountain in the country — in 2019, before bio-mining began in Ghazipur, the mounds were as high as 65 metres, just eight shorter than the Qutub Minar — the Ghazipur landfill was established in 1984 and reached capacity in 2002. But the city’s waste continued to be dumped there even after that. The result 70-acre landfill now holds more than 14 million tonnes of legacy waste, said municipal officials.

To put this volume in perspective, the amount of garbage in Ghazipur is more than the combined volume in both Okhla and Bhalswa landfill sites. A section of the mound collapsed in September 2017, killing two travelling on the road adjacent to it.

In July 2019, the Prime Minister’s office tasked the principal scientific advisor to the government of India with finding a solution to the Ghazipur waste problem. Some initial steps towards resolving the problem have been taken, civic body officials said. Based on directions issued by the National Green Tribunal, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) launched a bio-mining exercise in 2019 to flatten the garbage mountain.

Shyam Sunder Agarwal, mayor, EDMC, said the corporation has set a December 2024 deadline to clear the landfill. Bio-mining is currently being done using trommel machines that separate the waste into plastic, paper, cloth, sand and bricks.

A senior EDMC official said,“The mixed legacy waste is fed into the main trommel through a conveyor belt. The trommel consists of a cylindrical rotating sieve into which air is blown from one end. Heavy stuff like soil and stones fall through the cylindrical sieve while lighter components such as plastic and paper fall at the farthest end.”

“The various components of mixed waste can also be separated in this manner by simply varying the size of sieves in the trommel machines,” the official said, asking not to be named.

Agarwal said the corporation has been facing problems in disposing of the recovered inert material. “We have decided to appoint a single company for the removal of at least 50 lakh [5 million] tonnes of legacy waste as well as the disposal of recovered material. The company will also set up an engineered landfill site on a 10-acre recovered site as well as a leachate plant,” he said.

The east body has, so far, deployed 20 trommel machines in Ghazipur, with a capacity to process and remove at least 3,000 tonnes of legacy waste a day. The EDMC claimed it has removed 775,000 tonnes of legacy waste since 2019. Agarwal said the height of the Ghazipur landfill has now reduced by 15m.

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