Construction debris a common sight on Gurugram roads

Hindustan Times did a spot check on Saturday and found at least three sites under and around the IFFCO Chowk flyover in Sector 29, where construction and demolition waste had been deposited.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 17, 2018 09:15 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai
Prayag Arora-Desai
Gurugram, Hindustan Times
Construction debris,Gurugram,Waste
Mounds of construction debris or malba piling up near the IFFCO Chowk flyover in Sector 29. (Yogendra Kumar/HT Photo)

Mounds of construction debris or malba have been piling up near the IFFCO Chowk flyover in Sector 29. After receiving information from several residents, Hindustan Times did a spot check on Saturday and found at least three sites under and around the flyover, where construction and demolition (C&D) waste had been deposited.

Piles of sand and cement, demolished tarmac, broken water pipes, asbestos roofing, rusted iron bars and heaps of old bricks were found lying along the shoulders of roads, on street corners and pavements.

At one spot, repair work on an underground water pipeline had left a five-foot tall mound of loose, dry soil on an open road interfering with the flow of traffic.

Lal Singh, who runs a sugarcane juice kiosk near IFFCO Chowk, said it is a common practice for small tempos to dump C&D waste in the vicinity.

Residents from across the city — in Sushant Lok, Udyog Vihar I, Surya Vihar, Badshahpur, Atul Kataria Chowk, South City 2, Golf Course Road, Golf Course Road Extension and Ardee City among others — said construction waste is frequently dumped in their localities.

They alleged that the dumping was carried out by private proprietors, who operate independently or under contract with other builders. “It takes anything between Rs 500 to 800. Someone will come in a tempo, pick up the waste and dump it at the first empty spot they find,” said Pavan Verma, a resident of Sushant Lok in Sector 43.

The problem is common, and can be traced back to Gurugram’s real estate boom in the early 2000s, said environmentalist Sharad Goel. “At the time, little was known about the adverse effects of construction debris. Builders simply dumped it wherever they found vacant land — enough of which was always there,” he said.

Almost two decades on, mounds of construction debris have become a ubiquitous sight in Gurugram. “Don’t be surprised if you wake up one day to find a huge dump of malba outside your window,” he said.

The hazards

Construction debris contains fine particles of silica — an important construction material — which can enter into one’s lungs. “From the lungs, the particles slip into the bloodstream and trigger a range of ailments depending on which organ receives the blood,” said radiologist Sanjay Mehta.

Construction waste around sector 17 in Gurugram. (Yogendra Kumar/HT Photo)

While respiratory disorders are the most common, city doctors are encountering more cases of polycystic ovarian disorder, diabetes, brain fevers and impaired cognitive function in children. “

These all have been linked to the chemicals found in C&D waste,” Mehta said. Lead, asbestos and plaster — all harmful substances — are staple components of construction debris.

According to Goel, the environmental impact of construction debris is also a cause for concern. When debris is dumped out in the open, it becomes a major source of PM2.5 and PM10, contributing to air toxicity. Given the cloud of dust which enveloped the city recently, Goel said better storage and management of sand and cement was required.

Administration says

YS Gupta, additional commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), said 200 tonnes of construction waste was being cleared up from across Gurugram every day. According to official estimates, about 600 tonnes of debris is produced in the city every day. “Over 18,000 tonnes have been cleared since February,” he said. Majority of this waste has been sent to Basai, at the site of a proposed C&D waste management plant.

Debris near Westend Hotel in Gurugram. (Yogendra Kumar/HT Photo)

Since February 2018, the MCG has contracted a private company to clean up rubble from various sites in Gurugram. A list of 62 vulnerable spots, including Atul Kataria Chowk, Badshahpur and Khandsa village, has been created by the MCG and provided to the company.

The plant, which had been held up due to issues of land acquisition around the Basai waterbody, has been given an environmental clearance by the National Green Tribunal. “Once it is functional by the year-end, Gurugram will be able to properly recycle construction waste,” Gupta clarified.

The MCG is also planning to introduce mobile C&D waste management units at sensitive locations to save on transportation costs. A proposal for these units was discussed with MCG Commissioner Yashpal Yadav in early June, Gupta confirmed.

A ray of hope

Over 90% of construction waste is recyclable, experts said. A functional plant would help Gurugram manage its growing problem, and reduce the demand for natural resources like sand, which the real estate industry requires.

Waste near sector 18 in Gurugram. (Yogendra Kumar/HT Photo)

Harish Capoor, a resident of DLF Phase 5 who has been writing to the district administration about the construction waste problem since 2011, said, “The district administration has all the tools they need to clamp down on this potential disaster.”

Capoor said the MCG needs to design a step-by-step framework with the singular goal of abiding by the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, issued by the MoEF in 2016.

“The legislation is there, what we need now is administrative will,” said Capoor.

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 09:13 IST