Scientists take air, water, soil samples from villages surrounding Bandhwari landfill
A team of scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) on Monday visited the Bandhwari landfill and surrounding villages of Bandhwari, Gwal Pahari, Baliawas, Kot, and Mandi to collect air, water and soil samples for testing. This is being done as part of an impact assessment survey commissioned by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on May 20, to gauge the impact of the pollution from the landfill on surrounding ecology.
“The study has been commissioned by the CPCB at the behest of a Gurugram-based activist who requested that groundwater in villages downstream from the Bandhwari landfill site be tested to check for contamination,” said Kuldeep Singh, regional officer (Gurugram), HSPCB. He added that there have been concerns raised by villagers, who fear that pollution from the landfill has now made its way to them through the groundwater. Moreover, since these villages rely solely on groundwater for daily sustenance, any contamination poses a major health risk.
NEERI’s Environmental Impact & Risk Assessment division is expected to ready a report on pollution levels in the next two months, according to a scientist assigned to the task. “We will be carrying out a detailed study of surface water, groundwater, air quality and soil quality in the region. Water samples have been collected from five tube wells in each of the adjoining villages,” said the NEERI scientist.
Previous reports, such as the one in 2017 by the CPCB, have already declared Bandhwari’s groundwater unsafe for consumption. Two years after residents there raised the alarm over groundwater pollution and its impact on their health, residents in settlements further away are also demanding that authorities take steps to ascertain the extent of pollution, which has likely spread downstream.
“Run-off from the hilly Aravalli region, where Bandhwari lies, feeds an aquifer that continues through the villages of Gwal Pahari and Baliwas and onward to Ghata, Sector 45 and Civil Lines. Mandi and Kot in Faridabad are also connected with this aquifer,” said Vaishali Rana Chandra, the activist who wrote to the CPCB on May 9.
HT had reported these concerns on May 17. At the time, physicist and ecologist Vikram Soni, of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that it was likely that contaminants had made their way into these villages, after percolating into the ground from the landfill. However, a detailed groundwater modelling analysis of the area was needed to confirm that.
In April, the National Green Tribunal had also come down heavily on the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram and its concessionaire for waste management, Ecogreen Energy, for the “sorry state of affairs” at the Bandhwari landfill site. The court added that emergency measures need to be taken “at the highest level of the State” to remedy the situation. An action taken report to this effect was submitted by Depinder Singh Dhesi on May 27, and is awaiting the court’s further consideration.