Cost keeps NHAI from using Ghazipur waste for road work
Concern over inability to check the landfill’s growth increased after a portion of the now 65-metre-tall Ghazipur landfill collapsed killing two people in 2017.Updated: Jun 06, 2019 04:30 IST
A 2016 project to use at least 65% of the then 13 million metric tonnes of garbage sitting at east Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in road embankments along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway is likely to be delayed further.
The delay comes as the NHAI is engaging a third party for “financial reassessment” of the project, senior government officials said, adding that the rates quoted in 2017 by two companies that responded to tenders to excavate and process the garbage were “too high”.
“We are talking to a consultancy, the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS), which had, in 2012, made a similar estimation of the Ghazipur landfill for the then-unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD),” a senior NHAI official, requesting anonymity, said.
Concern over inability to check the landfill’s growth increased after a portion of the now 65-metre-tall Ghazipur landfill collapsed killing two people in 2017. The National Green Tribunal had then rapped the NHAI for “going slow on the project”.
It must be noted that the volume of garbage at Ghazipur has increased from 13 million metric tonnes to 14 million metric tonnes since 2016.
“In 2012, the DIMTS had calculated that it would cost any company Rs 13 per metric tonne to dig the garbage and extract the right grain size of inert garbage for building road embankments; the processing requires drying, gravity separation, traw milling, etc.,” the NHAI official said.
After the NHAI signed an agreement with the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) in November 2016, it estimated, for the year 2018, a cumulative cost of Rs 349 crore (inflation costs added) to use the then entire garbage volume at Ghazipur—13 million metric tonnes. A sample analysis of the garbage was also done by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), which said the garbage was “usable” for building road embankment.
“However, the lowest quote received in the first tender we floated was a whopping Rs873 per metric tonne and the quote received for the second tender (for 1.3 million metric tonnes only) shot up to Rs1,067 per metric tonne. So, we decided to go back to the drawing board with the DIMTS,” the NHAI official said.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) programme manager Swati Singh Sambyal said the cost is probably as high as it is because some of the garbage is 35 years old.
“This landfill was set up in 1984, so one can imagine what kind of waste it might include—biomedical, hazardous and even industrial. This project is not like deploying men and earth-moving machines at any site. It is a highly odorous landfill,” she said.
EDMC commissioner Dilraj Kaur said she would definitely like to see the project get completed successfully. “The landfill area can be cleared in just five years if the NHAI can work out the modalities of this project. It would help us redeem at least 70 acres of precious urban land in the heart of the city. We certainly don’t want to hand over the legacy of a landfill like Ghazipur to our children.”
Currently, the NHAI digs out fresh earth from areas around under-construction roads and highways which not only leads to loss of fertile agricultural soil, but damages the environment because of erosion.
The said project was initiated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to create “wealth from waste” under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2016.
As the NHAI assess the financial specifics of the project, the size of the garbage mountain grows. “At least 1 million metric tonne of garbage has been added at Ghazipur between November 2016 and now, and its height is now 65 metres as opposed to the estimated 60 metres back then,” a senior EDMC engineer said requesting anonymity.