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Unable to find alternative sites for landfill, say MCG officials

A week after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the state government to closely monitor the waste remediation process at Bandhwari landfill, officials on Thursday said that they have hit a roadblock in finding an alternative landfill site due to “not in my backyard syndrome”
By Suparna Roy, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON APR 15, 2021 11:26 PM IST

A week after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the state government to closely monitor the waste remediation process at Bandhwari landfill, officials on Thursday said that they have hit a roadblock in finding an alternative landfill site due to “not in my backyard syndrome”.

Officials from the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) said that waste remediation is being done at the landfill site and it (treatment capacity) is being expanded gradually. However, they are unable to find an alternative site for a landfill, with residents protesting plans or filing petitions in courts.

Sites were previously identified in Farrukhnagar and Sihi of Gurugram last year, but waste disposal could not be started at these sites due to public protests. Thereafter, over the last month, refuse-derived fuel was being temporarily stored on a plot near the Pali crusher zone in Faridabad, but it was stopped after officials learnt that there is status quo on the plot by the high court.

A senior MCG official, requesting anonymity, said, “The problem is of a site which is saturated due to legacy waste and continuous dumping of fresh waste. As per the directions of NGT, legacy waste is being processed but fresh waste is also being dumped. To delink fresh waste from legacy waste, multiple efforts have been made to identify an alternative site, but at all the places we were met with resistance. The corporation wants to resolve the issue, but residents are affected with this syndrome called ‘not in my backyard’.”

Officials said that at present, they have over 50,000 metric tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) ready for processing at either a cement plant or brick kiln. The official said that it is taking time to process RDF as there is “no cement plant nearby and waste-to-energy plants in Delhi, that could have used the RDF, are already saturated.”

Meanwhile, RDF was being temporarily stored at a plot near the Pali crusher zone in Faridabad, but due to ongoing litigation in the high court over the plot ownership, storage has been stopped.

At present, officials of the MCG have sought clearances from the forest department for setting up a solid waste management plant on the Aravalli forest land.

In a report submitted to the NGT on April 5, the MCG said, “…land measuring 92 acres in the revenue estate of Gothra Mohabatabad, district Faridabad is also under consideration for the SWM plant. The ownership of land belongs to Municipal Corporation, Faridabad and is protected by sections 4 & 5 of Punjab Land Preservation Act -1900 and is categorized as Aravalli Plantation area. The process to obtain environment clearance has been also initiated by MCF.”

The report further stated, “Drone survey of the site has been conducted and it has been decided to engage reputed institutions such as IIT, NEERI etc. to conduct a survey and prepare detailed project report for fresh waste processing facility within two months in coordination with municipal corporations of Gurugram and Faridabad. This facility is planned to operate till commissioning of a waste-to-energy plant in October 2023.”

However, citizens engaged in waste management activities in the city said that instead of searching for an alternative site to store waste, an integrated solid waste management approach at the ward level may help the situation.

Ruchika Sethi Takkar, a resident working for proper waste management in the city, said, “In this crisis (of finding alternative landfill sites) lies an opportunity to give Gurugram a scientific waste management system, by setting a goal of at least 75% landfill diversion through mandatory recycling and composting or biogas ordinances. A waste reduction hierarchy must be adopted as a chief operating principle that is to prevent waste, reduce and reuse first and then recycle or compost.”

She said, “An integrated solid waste management approach is required in all 35 wards for managing the total waste through a combination of composting units and biogas plants for treating the organic matter, which is roughly 60% -65% of the waste. The rest of the dry waste can be collected separately for recycling or processing. This will automatically reduce the load on landfills.”

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