Leachate from Bandhwari site forming ponds in Aravallis: Green activists

Updated on Jan 18, 2022 06:22 PM IST

Environmentalists on Monday alleged that leachate from the Bandhwari landfill had formed ponds in the Aravalli forest area over the past few weeks, posing an environment hazard and a threat to the wildlife in the area

The MCG’s concessionaire looking after the Bandhwari landfill said they are looking into the issue. (Vipin Kumar /HT PHOTO)
The MCG’s concessionaire looking after the Bandhwari landfill said they are looking into the issue. (Vipin Kumar /HT PHOTO)
BySuparna Roy

Environmentalists on Monday alleged that leachate from the Bandhwari landfill had formed ponds in the Aravalli forest area over the past few weeks, posing an environment hazard and a threat to the wildlife in the area. They said small mining pits in the area were also found to be filled with leachate.

When contacted, the concessionaire looking after the Bandhwari plant said they are looking into the matter.

Sunil Harsana,a resident of Mangar village, which in the vicinity of the landfill, said, “There are at least three leachate ponds in this area that were formed in the past six months and leachate is also being discharged into old mining pits near the Bandhwari village. This area, which is a continuation of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, has frequent wildlife movement and studies have found the presence of leopards, jackals, nilgai and smaller mammals here.The leachate is destroying the natural watering holes of these animals.”

On visiting the spot on Saturday, HT found a dark oily liquid flowing on to on the road nearby the landfill, where around 1,800 tonnes of waste is dumped daily from from Gurugram and Faridabad. The landfill also has about 2.5 million tonnes of legacy waste, according to environmentalists and Municipal Corporation of Gurugram.

Vaishali Rana, a city-based environmentalist, who has been raising this issue of leachate with the authorities, said, “We have reported at least eight times in the past three years about leachate being discharged into the surrounding Aravalli forests, which is a crucial wildlife movement area. This has become a regular affair by the authorities concerned, thereby destroying the sensitive wildlife habitat and the Aravalli forests. Last year, the pollution control board had tested samples from these ponds and found high levels of toxins in it, but no action has been taken till now.”

A report released by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board in August last year found that the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), zinc, chloride, fluoride were all found to be significantly higher than permissible norms, indicating heavy level of contamination.

During Saturday’s visit, the HT team also spotted droppings, believed to be that of nilgai, at four to five spots near the leachate pond, as well as pug marks of what appeared to be golden jackal, indicating a healthy wildlife movement in the area.

Residents said an animal carcass was also sighted last week near the leachate pond, which is situated around 200m inside the forest from the Gurugram-Faridabad highway.

Jyoti Raghavan, a member of Aravalli Bachao citizens movement, working for the protection of the Aravalli forests, said, “Pools of leachate created in the forest are a huge threat to the wildlife that roam around the jungles. A survey of the Aravalli forests of Gurugram, Faridabad and Delhi, conducted in 2019 by the Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) revealed that these forests are home to a rich diversity of wildlife especially rare native species such as honey badger, Indian fox, ruddy mongoose, hyena, and grey langur, among others. Wild animals as well as cattle from nearby villages have been dying after drinking the poisoned water. The ground water in the region is also getting contaminated by to leachate.”

Meanwhile, officials of Ecogreen Energy, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram’s concessionaire for waste management at the Bandhwari landfill, said that rainwater mixed with leachate spilt outside the landfill and accumulated.

Sanjeev Sharma, the spokesperson for Ecogreen Energy, said, “A wall that is being built by the MCG on the outskirts of the landfill had breached due to rain last week because of which rainwater mixed with leachate spilt outside and got accumulated. The work for the wall got delayed due to extreme weather, but we are helping them and the water is being cleared out.”

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