Silt dumping turns costly for east Delhi Municipal Corporation
East corporation officials say that now their trucks have to travel four times the distance they used to cover earlier. The cost involved — including fuel and manpower — has also doubled.Updated: Jun 24, 2019 05:27 IST
Transportation of drain silt is proving to be a costly affair for the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The civic body had last year decided to shift its drain silt dumping site from Geeta Colony in east Delhi to Singhola village —30km away on the Delhi-Haryana border north of the city — after facing a series of protests by local residents.
East corporation officials say that now their trucks have to travel four times the distance they used to cover earlier. The cost involved — including fuel and manpower — has also doubled.
“Earlier, our trucks carrying silt from various parts of east Delhi — Mayur Vihar, Nand Nagri, Seemapuri — had to cover an average distance of 7-8 km (one way) to reach Geeta Colony. Now, this has gone up to 30 km to reach Singhola village,” said an EDMC official.
“The transportation cost has gone up from Rs. 1-1.5 crore to Rs 2-2.5 crore now. For a cash-strapped corporation, this is a lot of money,” the official added. Silt-carrying trucks are allowed to ply only at night as per rules and they can barely make 2-3 trips during the night.
Also, the Singhola site provided by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is 7.5 acres, which is smaller than the Geeta Colony site, officials said.
Experts said that such local protests against dumping sites have become common. “This is again an example of the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) syndrome. Locals are afraid that the silt would contaminate their soil or groundwater and hence not supporting this,” said Swati Singh Sambyal, programme manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
“EDMC’s problem is also understandable since east Delhi is a thickly-populated area, so getting large patches of land for such purpose is difficult. There are agricultural plots and the Yamuna flows nearby compounding the problem,” she added.
Ravi Agarwal, director of NGO Toxic Link, said that if EDMC wishes to dump silt in the midst of habitations, it will have to create “contained landfills.” “One can sympathise with their financial problem but silt is often not just sand, but sewage and industrial waste mixed too. So they will have to look for safe engineered sites to dump this,” he said.
Desilting of drains is carried out by civic bodies before monsoon arrives in July every year to prevent waterlogging. East corporation is responsible for 223 drains in its area, which are more than four feet wide, and have a total length of 122.73 kilometers. This includes major drains, like those in Gokalpuri and Mandoli.
A part of the Ghazipur landfill had collapsed in September 2017, killing two people, due to what locals said was dumping of silt. Since then, the east corporation has not been dumping any silt on it though the north and south Delhi corporations continue to dump some silt on their respective Bhalswa and Okhla landfills.
Last year, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had granted land to the EDMC at Geeta Colony in East Delhi to dump drain silt. However, locals went to the High Court fearing that the dumping of silt will vitiate their environment. Inspite of EDMC’s explanations that unlike garbage, silt does not produce smell, local resistance continued and the high court ruled in favour of the locals.
First Published: Jun 24, 2019 05:27 IST