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Plantation site at Delhi’s Garhi Mandu threatened by surrounding garbage heaps

Garhi Mandu in north east Delhi, one of the sites earmarked for compensatory plantation, is littered with garbage, leading to fears that the groundwater may be contaminated in the area, say experts.

delhi Updated: Jun 30, 2018 09:21 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
garhi mandu,garhi mandu plantation site,EDMC
A view of forest area at Garhi Mandu village, near Usmanpur, Shahdara, New Delhi, India. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The sprawling 750-acre plantation land of Delhi government in north east Delhi’s Garhi Mandu looks like an island of trees, surrounded by garbage on all sides.

Garhi Mandu is one of the sites that has been earmarked by NBCC (India) Ltd for compensatory plantation. However, heaps of garbage — including plastic and construction waste — that lie strewn just metres away from the plantation site raises questions about the contamination of ground water in the area, which in turn can affect the growth and survival of trees, experts said.

Apart from the regular garbage thrown by residents, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) is also looking at three possible sites around this ‘restricted forest’ area for developing a landfill.

The first land being eyed by the east corporation is in the Garhi Mandu village area, which is just metres away from the plantation site. The others are at Ghonda Gujran and Sonia Vihar, which are less than 8km away from the site designated for compensatory plantation.

Environment experts said that no garbage dumping should happen in the vicinity of at least 10km from a mass plantation site.

Since the trees in the complex majorly rely on underground water for their survival, contamination of underground water hampers survival chances of saplings that are going to be replanted in this site.

Hindustan Times had on Wednesday reported the sad state of plantation at the site that is being developed by the government and used by several agencies as a site for replantation of saplings.

Managers at the replantation site on Friday said that it was difficult to water saplings manually. In such conditions, the plants have to rely on underground water for survival.

Ecologist CR Babu said that garbage dumping along the site will be equal to a “ecological disaster”.

“Garbage emits toxic chemicals into the soil that contaminates the surface and also the underground water. This is an opportunity that the government has to develop this space into a thick forest cover, which will eventually start attracting animal species. This will develop the floodplains,” Babu said.

He also said that there was no point in marking the space for compensatory plantation while allowing trash dumping. Several microorganisms, which help keep the river water clean, could be lost, he added.

EDMC officials, however, said that they have not insisted on getting a land around the floodplains. Since their landfill has been running above its capacity, they are ready to make-do with any alternative location.

Officials also maintained the place won’t be developed as a traditional landfill.

“It will be an integrated state-of-art waste management facility and no unprocessed garbage will be dumped. We will use it for processing rejects such as inert. For safety purposes, it will have leachate proofing,” said Ranbir Singh, EDMC commissioner.

Swati Singh Sambyal, programme manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that garbage dumping and lack of engineered landfills around plantation sites is especially a risk during monsoon when water percolates into the garbage leachates to pollute soil and water.

“The civic agencies must realise that dumping is not a solution, they will have to look at sustainable solutions if the ecology around the city needs to be maintained,” she said.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 09:21 IST