MCG chief orders probe into waste mgmt ‘racket’ - Hindustan Times
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MCG chief orders probe into waste mgmt ‘racket’

Jul 09, 2024 05:24 AM IST

The HT report has sparked reactions from environmentalists and social activists, highlighting the systemic issues plaguing Gurugram’s waste management

A day after Hindustan Times reported a multi-crore scam in Gurugram’s waste management processes, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) ordered an investigation by the chief vigilance officer and has also sought a detailed report within a week. The HT report, that uncovered large-scale financial irregularities and mismanagement in the city’s waste management contracts, has prompted immediate attention from the MCG’s top brass.

Refuse derived fuel (RDF) domestic and business waste illegally dump at a vacant land of Baliawas village near Heritage International School in Gurugram on Sunday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Refuse derived fuel (RDF) domestic and business waste illegally dump at a vacant land of Baliawas village near Heritage International School in Gurugram on Sunday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

In the order issued for vigilance inquiry on Monday, the MCG commissioner said that the “findings of the HT report were alarming and warranted a thorough investigation”.

MCG commissioner Narhari Singh Bangar said that they will get the scam investigated and will take action against the person found guilty once they receive the report from the vigilance team. “I was not posted during the period mentioned in the report when the scam took place, but I will ensure proper investigation is carried out and the agency involved in the scam is blacklisted. We will ensure they do not qualify for any further tenders,” he said.

The HT report has sparked reactions from environmentalists and social activists, highlighting the systemic issues plaguing Gurugram’s waste management.

Vaishali Rana, a Gurugram-based environmentalist said that the only solution to Bandhwari is having multiple de-centralized waste processing units in the city. “Bandhwari landfill needs to be sealed if it has to be treated and the forest restored. All bulk waste generators must treat their wet waste so that the load on the landfill reduces,” she said.

Manas Human, chief executive officer of Nagarro said, “Government investigations should cover the design of all the waste-management tenders, the awarding of the tenders, and the monitoring process post-award. We can then use the lessons learned to avoid such mistakes in the future as the city continues to grow. It’s easy to blame citizens for the sea of waste that the city is drowning in, but the cause is obviously the huge shortcomings in the waste management system. Now, it appears through this investigation that the gaps in this system might be due to corruption rather than incompetence. A rigorous, transparent, and well-monitored system is the crying need of the city,” he said.

Gauri Sarin, founder of Making Model Gurugram, a citizens’ initiative, said in her view, what has happened with regard to Patheya is hardly surprising, as there are scams waiting to be uncovered in the vast waste scenario. “Good vendors don’t wish to work in Gurugram anymore. The hurry to set up waste plants after getting rid of a private agency, identifying land for a processing unit, and issuing an EOI for C&D waste pickup and processing—it’s clear the government is under pressure but has not got its act together. Unfortunately, there will be scapegoats and no accountability because the whole system has now become questionable in the public eye. It’s time to put a watchdog—a Citizens Environment Committee with a Sustainable City Plan where active, responsible citizens demand knowledge and partnership of any initiative before rolling it out on an ad hoc basis. Wastage of public funds is not acceptable anymore,’ she said.”

Ruchika Sethi Takkar, founder member of ‘Why Waste Your Waste’, a civil society movement for a zero-waste city, said that they expect an immediate fair and impartial probe. Landfill waste and RDF are the most hazardous. The areas where this waste was intentionally dumped are now polluted and have suffered irreversible damage to the soil and water. This is nothing short of a public health crime. From the beginning, citizens’ voices have been alerting the government about illegal dumping, but they have been totally ignored—and now at what cost,” she said.

The environmentalists said that residents of Gurugram and Faridabad are well within their rights to demand waste management systems that are safe for the environment, health, and well-being. “Waste must be handled and processed in the most environmentally safe manner. It’s bewildering to see the very reverse of this. We ask the government to remove the C&T Tipping Fee Model, which leads to mismanagement and corruption, and introduce a reverse tipping fee model supported by a waste recovery model at the municipal ward level,” said Takkar.

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