With no alternate site, waste dumping continues at Bandhwari landfill despite assurance to green court
Despite informing the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it would stop dumping fresh municipal waste at the Bandhwari landfill site from March 15, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) does not yet have an alternative treatment facility where it can divert the waste. A spot visit to the Bandhwari landfill on Sunday morning by a Hindustan Times team found that customary dumping of untreated mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) was underway. In an affidavit submitted to the NGT late last month, the MCG had stated that it would no longer dump the city’s waste in the Bandhwari landfill, having opted to process it at an alternative site in Basai in Gurugram. By doing this, the MCG hoped to ease the pressure on the landfill site itself, where both Gurugram and Faridabad dump close to 1,900 tonnes of waste every day. This decision “has been necessitated by a lack of available space at Bandhwari to handle both fresh and legacy waste simultaneously,” the MCG had stated in its affidavit, dated February 26. A copy of the affidavit is in possession of the HT. However, opposition from locals and villagers living near the proposed site in Basai village has prevented such an alternative facility from coming up, explained Mahavir Prasad, additional commissioner of zone three of MCG. “Dumping of waste at Bandhwari will continue until an alternate site is prepared where we can divert waste. We have taken possession of some land in Basai from the GMDA for this purpose, but locals have voiced concerns regarding the project. We were also looking at another plot in Farrukhnagar, where a stay from a local court has been granted against creating a waste processing facility. The MCG is attempting to vacate that stay order,” he said.An alternative waste treatment facility would allow the MCG to focus solely on the remediation of close to 27.5 lakh tonnes of legacy waste, which have already accumulated at the landfill site over the past 12 years, posing an adverse impact on the local ecology and human health. Multiple reports have confirmed the presence of water and soil contamination in the region, with nearby villages being dependent on the area’s groundwater for drinking and other domestic purposes.“Locals in Basai are fearing that the same thing may happen in their locality,” said Soniya Duhan, a waste management expert, currently consulting with the MCG. “It is important for them to know that we are attempting to create a waste processing facility where there will be no storage of waste. Fresh municipal solid waste (MSW) will be bio-remediated, then immediately screened, segregated and recycled. Until the MCG’s waste-to-energy(WTE) plant comes up, the recycled waste will be diverted for use in Delhi’s WTE plants, or in construction work. We have recently signed a memorandum of understanding with an organisation, which will purchase recycled waste from us on the behalf manufacturers of multi-layered plastics and so on. The ‘extended producer responsibility’ principle of sustainable development states that such manufacturers will have to buy back some of the waste they produce,” she added. MCG officials were unable to specify a date by when the proposed alternative, sanitary waste processing facility would be operational. “Public resistance is the only hurdle at this stage. Once we have found a suitable site, the MCG’s action plan can be implemented properly,” Prasad said.