Leachate from landfill site spills outside boundary, blocks local road access
Leachate from the rear side of Bandhwari landfill site situated on Aravalli land has been spilling outside its boundary on to the adjoining road. A spot check by an HT team on Wednesday revealed that due to the spillage, a kuccha road leading to nearby villages in the area has been blocked.
Workers from Ecogreen Energy, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram’s (MCG) concessionaire for waste management of Bandhwari landfill present at the site were seen clearing the leachate by pumping it out into tankers along with trucks and JCBs, clearing the excess waste spillage.
Around 1,900 tonnes of untreated mixed municipal solid waste generated in Gurugram and Faridabad is dumped at the landfill every day.
Sunil Harsana, a resident of Mangar village located in the vicinity of the landfill, who was also present at the landfill site on Wednesday, said that the Bandhwari waste plant visibly has more waste than it can accommodate, which is now spreading outside the plant.
“The leachate or dirty water from the accumulated waste is now flowing into the nearby forests and a road leading to our village has also been blocked recently because of this. If this is the situation now, then what will be the condition during monsoon, when leachate usually spills out?” said Harsana.
He said, “We already know that the groundwater under the landfill is completely contaminated and people from nearby villages are suffering because of it. Along with people, our fauna in and around the landfill is also feeding on the same water, affecting their health too.”
Nearly 6.7 million tonnes of waste has accumulated at the landfill 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).
Reacting to the spillage of the leachate, Dhiraj Kumar, joint commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) said, “Around 15-20 days ago, the city had witnessed rainfall, which might have caused the leachate to percolate on one particular side leading to spillage. It is not a lot of spillages and our officials are working at the site to pump it out.”
Kumar also said that the MCG is in the process of issuing tenders for “extending the existing boundary wall of the landfill, which will be bigger and stronger to ensure that waste does not breach into the forests.”
Listing causes for spilling of waste and leachate, Sanjeev Sharma, the spokesperson for Ecogreen Energy said, “We have learnt from our official working at the site that it happened because a lot of waste was being shifted from one angle to another, due to which some of it spilled over the boundary walls, which are very old. We have started repairing the walls and it should get fixed within 10 days. Another reason is that the particular area where waste was spilled on Wednesday is on a downslope.”
Sharma said that due to the downslope, freshwater shifted down the slant and that the leachate was cleared and sucked through pumps by the end of the day.
Locals have been protesting demanding shifting of the landfill from Bhandwari to outside the city where there is no human habitation. In January, members of Citizens for Clean Air — a civil society group — wrote to the CPCB, drawing attention to allegations of groundwater contamination in Bandhwari and nearby villages, about 20 kilometres outside the city. In the letter to the pollution control body, the civil society group wrote, “Their (locals from the area) natural habitat got spoiled beyond recovery to accommodate the dirt of the city dwellers — the dumping of mixed solid municipal waste at the landfill site for the past several years. And their environment, including their drinking water sources, has been destroyed. Already there are reports of higher incidence of cancer and other ailments in these areas.”
Experts and citizens working on the environmental issues around Bandhwari landfill said that authorities need to enforce solid waste management rules to stop the daily dumping of around 2,000 tonnes of mixed waste at the site.
Neelam Ahluwalia, of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement, said, “Bandhwari landfill, with more than 30 lakh (3 million) tonnes of untreated mixed waste is a violation of all rules connected with the forest and environment. For the past two years, the National Green Tribunal has been directing the MCG to remove the waste mountain following the Indore model, where a 100-acre dump site was recovered with treatment of 15 lakh (1.5 million) tonnes of waste. The same needs to be done at Bandhwari to remove this toxic monster.”
She said that native Aravalli plantation needs to be done to restore the 32 acres of forest land where the landfill currently stands, as the Aravallis are the lungs and a critical water recharge zone on which life of National Capital Region depends.