Babarpur’s first tryst with mechanical waste cleaning, L-G assures citizens of lasting solution
Residents of northeast Delhi’s Babarpur area, often characterised by its open, garbage-filled and stagnated drains, had their first tryst with scientific waste and sewage management on Sunday.
Locals in the area, so far, had only seen their complaints about stinking open drains being resolved “occasionally” with the help of earth movers and manual cleaners. On Sunday, however, a set of unique machinery – booms and enhancers – was lowered into a 52-cusec drain that cuts through matchbox-like houses in Babarpur. The project was launched on Sunday morning in the presence of Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal.
“It (the drain) was an irrigation canal decades ago, which is now dead. Sources of this drain have been reduced to rain, sewage and local waste. This will now be a part of the 10 sentinel locations across the country chosen for the Centre’s Waste to Wealth mission. The aim is to adapt available technology and methods to attend to these sites in inclusive partnership with city officials and other stakeholders,” said K VijayRaghavan, principal scientific adviser to the Government of India.
The project which is being overseen by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (STIAC) and is being executed by the east Delhi municipal corporation, the Centre’s department of biotechnology (DBT) and a few private stakeholders, is aimed at cleaning the drain and then creating energy and reusable water from the wastewater.
A group of residents, however, resorted to protests as the L-G was being shown the drain and the machinery by central government officials, the EDMC commissioner and the area councillor. While some locals demanded covering of the drain, others asked for a long-term solution to the problem.
To this, the L-G said that covering the drain would not be a lasting solution and asked officials to prepare a sustainable plan. “Both the EDMC and teams from the GOI will prepare a detailed solution to the 52-cusec drain within a month after consulting the residents here. I have directed the EDMC to not just come up with a plan for the drain but to draft a plan for the whole area, which includes parking management,” Baijal said at the site.
Being treated on a model similar to the LOTUS HR — Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse – project that has been underway for over a year at the Barapullah drain, the Babarpur drain will also have an automated assembly line soon.
“By August-end we hope to add four more units of such machinery and the entire system will be automated where an assembly line will work,” said a senior official in the DBT.
Residents who were protesting against the poor upkeep of the Babarpur drain said work on cleaning the drain began only a week ago. “The stench is so unbearable and strong that even pulmonologists question us if we are living in an area that is exposed to pollution. From being a small drain, it has now expanded to a canal as the only thing the civic body has been doing for decades is using an earth mover to remove the garbage. As a result, the drain kept going deeper and wider,” said Shiv Kumar Kaushik, a resident who represented the area during the meet with the L-G on Sunday.
Area councillor from the BJP Kusum Tomar said locals were also to be blamed for the mess. “We even appointed volunteers to stop people from dumping in the drain. But they get scolded or beaten up. Also, residents have started parking along the drain making it extremely dangerous as during an emergency neither an ambulance nor a fire tender will be able to enter the colonies,” she said.
Responding to this, L-G Baijal directed EDMC commissioner Dilraj Kaur to engage local women to prevent people from committing such civic offences. “The EDMC can give them an honorarium which would add dignity and respect to their work. Also, providing security personnel for the safety of these women should be looked into,” the L-G said.