Land flooded, activists want east Delhi waste management project at Ghonda Gujran scrapped
The 42.7acre site at Ghonda Gujran, on which the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) plans to build an ‘Integrated Waste Management Facility,’ is once again under the lens with activists alleging that the land is inundated with floodwaters.
Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, an NGO, on Thursday, sent letters to Delhi’s lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal with videos and photographs of the site completely submerged under water and only a few trees and some power transmission towers visible.
“We fail to understand how the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) allotted this land to EDMC within the (Yamuna River) Zone O for garbage handling, and how the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) declared the site suitable?” he said in the letter.
East corporation commissioner Dilraj Kaur, however, refuted the allegations on Thursday saying “The site is not under water.”
When asked why the DDA allotted this site, DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor said, “This site was allotted due to unavailability of large land parcels in East Delhi. While allotting the site, we had asked the east corporation to take necessary approvals from all authorities, including the flood control department and principle committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), headed by secretary water resources.”
Senior EDMC officials maintained that a joint survey of the site, done by the DDA and the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC), had found the land to be “out of floodplains even if it was within the Yamuna River Zone ‘O.’”
A senior east civic body official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We are about to float tenders for the project. Our joint venture (with the National Thermal Power Corporation) will soon issue tenders inviting companies to build the waste management facility.”
The DDA had provided the 42.7 acre land, along the Pushta Road near old Usmanpur village, to the east corporation in March this year. The corporation is searching for land to deal with waste in view of orders by L-G Anil Baijal that the Ghazipur landfill be closed.
A plea had been filed by AAP’s Dilip Pandey and ex-AAP MLA Kapil Mishra in the NGT in 2018 saying the site was “very close to Yamuna and unfit for garbage handling.” The DDA, however, had submitted reports from CPCB and NEERI saying that the land was “suitable”.
The political wing of east corporation has also been opposing the move to build the facility at the site. The Ghonda Gujran councillor Rajkumar Ballan said he inspected the site on Wednesday, along with Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari and area district magistrate and found “at least 8-9 feet of water standing there”.
“Leave alone creating a landfill there, you cannot even construct a building on that site. It is flooded in the monsoon every year and nothing can be done there,” Ballan said.
The east corporation standing committee chairperson, Sandeep Kapoor, said, “We have already rejected the proposal to create the waste management facility at the Ghonda Gujran site in both our House and standing committee meetings. We are not sure why officers are still pushing for it.”
Other environmental activists agreed with Manoj Misra and posed similar questions to authorities. Vimlendu Jha, director of the NGO Swechha India, tweeted, “Dear @LtGovDelhi, please go and have a look (at the flooded site now) and better scrap the project.”
Bharati Chaturvedi, founder of the NGO Chintan, too tweeted in support of scrapping the project.“The problem with Delhi is that it ignores its own topography: low lying, across the Yamuna. You cannot landfill there. It’s like dumping trash in the river in slow motion. @msisodia pls take note. We all love our beautiful #Yamuna,” she said.
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