Lessons from Ghazipur: How we can stop the garbage mountains from sprouting in our cities
Of the total garbage generated in the city, about 10,000 metric tonnes, 50% is fit for composting and 30% is recyclable. Only 20% should reach the landfills, say experts.Updated: Sep 01, 2017 23:55 IST
Providing more land for new landfill sites is not the solution to the problem of garbage management, say experts.
Ravi Agarwal, director of the NGO, Toxics Link, says the mismanagement of garbage in the city needs to stop. “Diverting waste away from landfill is the primary mantra now but we are not doing that on the ground. We have two laws in place but they aren’t enforced. The ‘collect and dump’ over approach needs to change,” he said.
A closer look at any of the garbage hills in the city shows that majority of the waste is either plastic or malba (debris). These take thousands of years to decompose and have worse impact on the environment when mixed with soil.
Of the total garbage generated in the city, about 10,000 metric tonnes, 50% is fit for composting and 30% is recyclable. Only 20% should reach the landfills, say experts.
The Solid & Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, were notified in April last year. The new bylaws sought to enforce collection and segregation of garbage at source, developing local segregation points, integration of informal sectors for segregation of waste and proper disposal. But, the problem is enforcement.
The rules make it mandatory for waste generators to segregate garbage into three streams. “They need to separate wet (biodegradable), dry (plastic, paper, metal, wood, and so on) and domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, blades, batteries, mosquito repellents). If they don’t do that then it is supposed to invite penalty. However, it is yet to be implemented by the municipal corporations,” Swati Sambyal of the Centre for Science and Environment said.
But what to do to get rid of these stink mountains, which have long exhausted their life span? One way forward is reclamation. Excavating and removing the plastic and construction and demolition waste will leave just 50% of inert waste. This remaining mud inert can be used for road widening projects and the land can be reused.
The NHAI had proposed a similar arrangement for Ghazipur last month.
The green court said urgent steps were needed to reduce the pressure on the site and asked the agencies to invite tenders for segregation and management of waste at the landfill site. The stakeholders were also asked to choose an independent agency which would be responsible for segregation and reduction in height of dumped waste at the site.
“Solid waste from Ghazipur landfill site in east Delhi would be used in the construction of road especially NH-24 and embankment of other roads where NHAI has commenced work,” the bench said.
Another way is conversion. These sites can be converted into a green space. “There are already 19 such green spaces in Delhi like Mukarba Chowk, Uttam Nagar, Timarpur and Kailash Nagar, among others. That is the logical way forward after reclamation,” a senior Delhi government environment department official said.