With overflowing waste dumps, Delhi’s crying need remains unmet

The dhalao at Kishangarh Mod is always overflowing, say locals. Cows, dogs and scavenger birds can be seen dragging the garbage on to the road, which is then crushed under wheels, making the stench worse.
A dhalao at Panchkuian Road on Monday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A dhalao at Panchkuian Road on Monday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Published on May 23, 2019 03:46 AM IST
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New Delhi | ByAshish Mishra and Baishali Adak

A look at dhalaos -- the three-walled garbage collection points in every locality — in Vasant Kunj will dismiss all impressions that it is an upscale residential area in south Delhi.

The dhalao at Kishangarh Mod is always overflowing, say locals. Cows, dogs and scavenger birds can be seen dragging the garbage on to the road, which is then crushed under wheels, making the stench worse.

Just a few kilometers away, the condition of the dhalao near Vasant kunj’s pocket 1, Sector B is the same. “There are bulls sitting near this all the time. We have narrowly missed hitting them while driving past them,” said Venkat Raja, a resident.

The situation is the same at most of the 1,689 dhalaos in Delhi managed by the three municipal corporations. This despite over 1,500 crore spent annually on sanitation services by them.

Over the years, the BJP-ruled corporations have experimented with many ideas -- from regular monitoring to outsourcing waste collection, to fixing ‘zero waste hour’ at dhalaos. The erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had once planned to do away with the dhalaos and replace them with dry waste compactors.

The BJP leadership in the corporations is under pressure to fix the mess in the city, especially ahead of the assembly elections. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari recently met with councillors on the issue. “We are not happy with the state of sanitation in the city. At several places, sanitation staff is not coming regularly and the officials are not monitoring. We have told councillors to fix the problem,” said Tiwari.

The AAP has also stepped up its ante against the BJP and is raising the issue aggressively. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal recently told HT that cleanliness will a priority. “We hope in the next MCD election, we are able to win and tackle this problem too,” he added.

AAP leader of opposition in north corporation Anil Lakra said the condition of dhalaos was “pathetic” in the region. “The corporation doesn’t have enough resources as the number of loaders has gone down to six from 16 in the last few years,” Lakra said.

BS Vohra, president of an umbrella group of east Delhi resident welfare associations, said garbage management is a major issue. “Most times, either the sanitation staff is on strike due to non-payment of salaries or it is the lax attitude of officials due to which dhalaos remain overflowing with garbage, but ultimately residents suffer,” Vohra said.

Except a few zones, garbage collection from dhalaos and transporting it to landfill sites has been outsourced in areas under South and North corporations.

Residents of Dwarka say west Delhi has no system in place for solid waste management and often, garbage is dumped in the open. Sudha Sinha, general secretary of the Federation of CGHS, Dwarka, said, “We have often seen that the corporation trucks just dump trash at the many vacant plots in Dwarka. A few months back, so much trash accumulated outside Sector 7 here that we had to call the civic body people to remove it,” she said.

Swati Singh Sambyal, Programme Manager, Environmental Governance (Municipal Solid Waste), at the Centre for Science and Environment, said, “The dhalaos will continue to be dirty till we have full garbage segregation at household level across Delhi. There has been a lack of political and administrative will in the city to get people to do that and install municipal systems to support this.”

“We are talking about Model Wards, but it’s already too late. We cannot afford to heap more garbage on Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla landfills,” she said.

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