South corp seeks nod to dump inert waste in Asola sanctuary
The Supreme Court-mandated Ridge Management Board, which conducted its first meeting after the appointment of two independent members on Friday, constituted an expert committee to look into South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (SDMC) application seeking permission to “dump inert (non-reactive) waste from bio-mining of three landfills — Bhalswa, Okhla and Ghazipur — in the mines of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.”
Environment experts, however, warned that if allowed, this could lead to “irreparable damage” to the city’s green lungs, which would take several decades to rectify.
“The proposal of the SDMC was heard and we will conduct a detailed analysis on whether it is feasible to allow them to dump inert waste there. After a month, the board will look at the findings of the committee and take a final call,” a senior official, who attended the meeting, confirmed.
The Delhi chief secretary headed Ridge Management Board in Friday’s meeting decided that an “expert committee” comprising officials from various agencies — including SDMC — will assess whether it is feasible to allow municipal agencies to dump its inert waste on the ecologically sensitive zone.
“SDMC’s application was filed on behalf of all the five civic bodies in Delhi. It wanted permission to dump about 265 lakh tonnes of inert waste recovered from bio-mining of the three landfills. Nearly seven trommel machines, which acts as sieves to separate garbage by size for safe disposal, have already been installed in Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla dump yards. We need to deposit the inert waste somewhere,” an SDMC official said on Friday.
The official, on condition of anonymity, added that municipalities need four pits at Asola Bhatti, which are around 30 metres deep, to dump their waste. These pits were abandoned about 35 years ago, after the Supreme Court halted mining of ‘red badarpur’ sand for construction activity, due to environmental destruction resulting from it.
The SDMC had presented the same proposal before the Ridge Management Board in 2007, which was then rejected by the board. In fact, an environment impact assessment of this proposal in 2003 had also pointed out the long term damage that such large scale dumping would lead to on the flora, fauna and also the underground aquifers in the area.
The Bhatti mines is a notified wildlife sanctuary, which comes under the southern leg of Delhi’s ridge. The ridge is home to several protected species, which will be impacted if this proposal gets the go-ahead, environmentalists said.
Vimlendu Jha, executive director of environment NGO Swechha, who is also a former member of the Ridge Management Board, said that allowing such dumping on the ridge was “unacceptable”.
“The job of the Ridge Management Board is to protect the ridge and not allow such atrocious activities. You don’t need to be an expert to know the kind of damage waste dumping does to the ecology. Not just the trees and soil, the underground water levels, the animals, everything in the area is staring at a grave damage. This proposal has been rejected by the courts, then why are we even considering it? ,” Jha said.
In October 2019, the National Green Tribunal had also refused to entertain the application by the SDMC seeking permission for the dumping.
Aya Nagar councillor from the SDMC, Ved Pal, had opposed the application in the standing committee meeting of the civic body on Tuesday.
“The aquifers below the Bhatti mines hold groundwater that is used by entire south Delhi, Faridabad and Gurugram. This proposal will lead to largescale pollution of the mines with waste from landfills. The sanctuary is a part of my ward and I will not allow this,” he said.