Ticking garbage bombs: Ghazipur rerun at north Delhi’s Bhalswa will be disastrous
At the Bhalswa landfill site, which too has completed its lifespan, a section collapse might inflight more damage than what was seen at Ghazipur on Friday.
A similar accidental slide will impact hundreds of families living in jhuggis bordering the landfill in the numerous mushrooming colonies near Bhalswa Dairy. Residents say if something happens at night, thousands of people can become victims of the mountain of trash.
Abdul Malik, 28, a resident of Shanibazar More, recalls how a couple of years back a small section of the landfill had fallen on a jhuggi nearby and destroyed it. “Eight-nine tenants used to stay in that particular jhuggi. Luckily they were all out for work when the incident happened. If anything happens during the night, families living on the edge won’t survive,” Malik, who has been living in the locality since 1994, says.
There is not even a boundary wall separating the trash hillock and the brick jhuggis. The lone wall is around a Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board public toilet.
Atul Chaurasia, another resident who owns a wrought iron shop, says how he has complained and put up applications with the corporation but no help has come.
“Where will we go? Give us an alternate place to live. No one listens to us,” the 50-year-old said.
The Bhalswa site spread across 50 acres was commissioned in 1993 and exhausted its lifespan in 2008-09. It has a total of 15 million tonnes of garbage in it. On an average, a daily load of 2,800 tonnes is dumped here.
At little further away, in the nearby Kalinder Colony, Raj Kumar, 35, runs a kirana store. He says life amid stench and gas from impromptu garbage burning is tough.
“Methane causes this fire. Our eyes hurt. Breathing gets difficult. Trips to the doctor have become a regular affair for most kids and elderly. The water which comes out is yellow and stinking. Life is difficult,” he says.
Atop the landfill, Hindustan Times saw all types of garbage — concrete, plastic, biodegradable or non-biodegradable — strewn around. Whatever little segregation is happening is done by the ragpickers, who brave the ungodly stench and almost non-breathable air to earn a living.
In April, last year, a committee comprising officials from the Delhi government’s Delhi Pollution Control Committee, transport department, revenue department and urban development department, was formed after reports of fire at Bhalswa and Ghazipur sanitary landfill (SLF) sites. One of its recommendations included installing compost plants for biodegradable waste. The irony is that a functional compost plant was shut by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee in 2014 for flouting environmental norms. And it remains shut.
North Delhi Municipal Corporation mayor Preety Agarwal on Saturday sought a status report from the municipal commissioner about Bhalswa landfill site.
“The Bhalswa landfill site is a similar threat. I have directed the authorities that immediate action should be taken in order to avoid a repeat of Ghazipur incident,” Agarwal said in a release.
Despite the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s best efforts to manage the Okhla landfill properly, it has been a continuous source of nuisance for neighbouring residential areas as well as a hospital complex. Spread across 32 acres, the landfill has 3.5 million tonnes of waste. The landfill shares the boundary wall with ESI Hospital and its residential flats. According to staff members, the height of mountain is much more than the boundary wall and thus garbage is spilled into the complex every other day.
“Not just that, during rains leachate (toxic water discharged from garbage during decomposing) seeps through boundary wall in our complex, resulting into complete mess in the area. Since the mountains are located adjacent to residential complex, we have to breathe the foul smell throughout the day,” said Dr Deepika Govil, medical superintendent, ESI hospital, Okhla Industrial Area.
According to her, the matter was raised with the lieutenant governor (L-G) when he visited the hospital in May. “The existing situation affects the health of people living here as well as 2,000 (average) patients visiting the hospital every day,” she added.
The Ghazipur incident on Friday, has led to fear among the residents in the area. “At Ghazipur, people are living 100-200 metres away from the landfill but here we are living adjacent to garbage trash. We are really scared after Ghazipur incident and it is high time that the MCD should abandon the site, which has already completed its life span in 2010,” said Jeevan Singh Negi, a resident at ESI complex.
According to him, massive fire broke at the landfill on Diwali and it took three days for SDMC to control the situation. “For these three days, people avoided opening windows and doors so that foul air won’t enter their complex.”
Narela-Bawana is the first scientific landfill site in the city to become fully operational in 2011. Here close to 2,000 metric tonnes of solid waste is segregated and processed to obtain refuse derived fuel (RDF) for industrial use, manure, recyclable material etc.
The site has facilities for treating leachate, trapping harmful gases and make RDF. The leachate will be collected and treated before being released in the storm water drains.
The North Corporation claims that its capacity will increase to 4,000 metric tonnes per day out of which 2,400 metric tonne will be used for waste-to-energy plant.
Presently, the waste-to-energy plant here is using 1,200 metric tonne waste and composting it to 500 metric tonne.