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Aerial survey underway at landfill to identify space for waste-to-energy plant

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is currently carrying out a drone survey of the Bandhwari landfill site to demarcate land for a proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, to kick off construction later this year
By Prayag Arora-Desai, Gurugram
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 12:05 AM IST

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is currently carrying out a drone survey of the Bandhwari landfill site to demarcate land for a proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, to kick off construction later this year.

The survey of the landfill, located 40 kilometres from the city, is expected to be completed in two weeks. Officials privy to the matter said the WTE plant is likely to take at least two more years to become functional.

Dhiraj Kumar, MCG’s joint commissioner, who is overseeing the implementation of the Centre’s Swacch Bharat Mission, confirmed that plans to move ahead with the WTE plant are underway and that preliminary aerial surveys will be completed early next month. “We are mapping the height of the landfill in various places through drone photography, as it will help in assessing the amount of legacy waste that needs to be cleared immediately, to meet the land requirement,” he said.

Kumar pointed out that bioremediation of legacy waste, which commenced three months ago, is continuing at the landfill site, with nine trommel machines. However, he did not provide any data on how much waste has been treated since last September.

A spokesperson for Ecogreen Energy, the city’s concessionaire for waste management, pegged the estimate of remediated legacy waste at about 250,000 tonnes. This is against nearly 6.7 million tonnes of waste accumulated at the site over the last two decades, as per a 2019 joint committee report drafted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), IIT-Delhi and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

“We have recently started doing the drone mapping survey of the area, but it is not yet complete. Some of the lands which had been kept for the WTE plant is filled with waste, so we need to map the height of the landfill at various points around the site. Based on that we have to decide where to start the reclamation process, otherwise, the landfill may become unstable,” said the spokesperson, adding that the landfill’s highest point currently stands at 40 metres above the ground, based on results from preliminary drone surveys.

On the other hand, officials have not yet been able to address the issue of fresh incoming waste, a large portion of which continues to accumulate there despite the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) orders to stop dumping.

“It will take us some time to create enough capacity that we can parallelly process both legacy and fresh waste, but we have successfully started treating about 2,500 tonnes of legacy waste per day already. In some parts of the landfill, the height has also reduced by two to three metres. It will take another two years for the plant to be up and running, until which point bioremediation will continue,” said the spokesperson for Ecogreen Energy.

The proposed WTE energy plant has received opposition from several quarters of civil society, with residents and experts questioning its environmental repercussions. “Delhi’s experience with the waste to energy model in Okhla should serve as a warning to people in Gurugram, particularly the residents in villages around the landfill. Such a plant in an eco-sensitive zone, right in the middle of the Aravallis, will cause irreversible harm to the ecology and human health,” said Pallavi Tiwari, a campaigner of the Aravalli Bachao group.

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