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(Land) filled to the brim in East Delhi

The waste management system in east Delhi falls apart; efforts are on to reclaim the Ghazipur landfill with initiatives such as a waste-to-energy plant. HT investigates.

india Updated: May 03, 2013 23:19 IST
Darpan Singh
Darpan Singh
Hindustan Times
landfills,ghazipur landfill,waste management

Garbage-laden municipal trucks climb the Ghazipur landfill, a 30-metre-high and multi-layer hill containing 46 lakh metric tonnes of trash. Up there, a large number of rag-pickers are busy snapping up saleable recyclables missed by their street counterparts amid innumerable kites encircling overhead and dogs, captured from streets, hanging around.

At another spot on same site in east Delhi, teams of experts are busy laying layers of mud, concrete blocks, gravel and rubberised sheets. Greenery is also happening.

“We’re trying to trap methane, to be converted into CNG, prevent soil and groundwater pollution through lining, mine the trash piles to create space for fresh dumping and reclaim some parts through greening,” said an expert at the site surrounded by slums.

If the task is uphill, stakes are high too. The results of projects undertaken by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation with help from World Bank, Planning Commission and the Delhi government will make or mar the life of 40 lakh people in the trans-Yamuna area.

The waste management system is falling apart with the 70-acre landfill having exhausted its lifespan years ago and no fresh site is in sight.

A plant has been set up to burn 1,300 tonnes of garbage, half the amount the 673 colonies in east Delhi spew out daily. Though a similar plant in South Delhi is facing protests over green concerns, senior corporation official Yogendra Mann is hopeful. “We will convert useable trash into energy and remove the rest to other sites. In the meantime, we will allow dumping only for composting and for the waste-to-energy plant,” he said.

But these big-ticket plans have little impact on the ground, at least as of now. Devender Singh Bansal, an office-bearer of the Ghazipur RWA, said, “We have hired rickshaws to collect garbage and take that to community bins or dhalaos where it remains uncollected as the corporation’s trash pickups come once in 4-5 days. We have tried calling the garbage helpline but it’s of no use.”

The corporation has ensured, through an NGO, Chintan, door-to-door trash pickup and segregation in two wards — 221 and 254. Sunil Negi, a resident of ward 221, said, “The NGO collects the waste, puts it in separate bins.” Segregation means less waste needs to be land-filled. Chaudhary Vijay Pal of ward 254 said, “It’s a relief. Earlier, a four-wheeler used to come and we had to carry garbage from home to the vehicle.”

Chintan’s Bharati Chaturvedi claims her organisation ensures waste does not spill into drains, a big problem in less affluent areas and that workers have green cycle rickshaws, uniforms and whistles.

But 150 dirty dhalaos dot the rest of the 62 wards where there is no formal door-to-door trash pickup. In several areas such as Ghazipur, Vivek Vihar and Trilokpuri, dhalaos are often not cleaned. In Mayur Vihar, garbage remains uncollected for days and spills over. Vinod Kumar of Vasundhara Enclave Vyapar Mandal said, “The massive dhalao near the market is cleaned every two days. This is a major nuisance.” (with inputs from Ritam Halder)

Waste collection at doorstep will be expanded in east Delhi: S Kumaraswamy

East Delhi municipal corporation commissioner S Kumaraswamy shared plans to reclaim space at the Ghazipur landfill by way of establishing a waste-to-energy plant and other initiatives. He also spoke about plans to extend system of door-to-door collection of garbage.

The Ghazipur landfill has already exhausted its life span. What are plans for the future?

A waste-to-energy plant is coming up at the landfill. It will take care of 1,300 tonnes of waste daily. A debris processing plant of 500 tonnes-a-day capacity will also be set up at Shastri Park.

The waste-to-energy plant at Okhla in continues to face protests over environmental concerns. How would your plant be different?

All required pollution clearances will be taken to address such concerns.

Delhi’s environment department says waste in Delhi is not fit for burning. Your comments.

This is why the waste is being segregated. The new landfill at Narela-Bawana road under north MCD is a perfect example of how it should be done. The private companies involved have undertaken it in a scientific manner to keep it environment-friendly.

What are the plans for Ghazipur landfill?

We’re in the process of reclaiming the landfill. Existing waste will be dug off the site and segregated into different components. Recyclable items will be sent to industries for processing, reuse and the inert waste will be used for filling purposes. The process will take 10 years.

Door-to-door collection began in two wards a year ago. How is the response?

The response has been good. The NGO, Chintan, is doing a good job. We may extend the project in several other wards.

Segregation of garbage at source has been a challenge. How are you going to deal with this problem?

The project being undertaken by Chintan is an example. Debris and plastic complicates things. They separate the recyclable waste first. We have also identified various sites for dumping of debris.

Ritam Halder interviewed S Kumaraswamy about his plans to reclaim space at the Ghazipur landfill.

Case Study:
She finds innovative use for all refuse

Indra De, former radiologist
Kalkaji Extension

New Delhi: Since 1997, Indra De has not thrown anything away as trash and recycled almost everything at her Kalkaji Extension home.

Tyres, plastic containers, electronic items, paper, polythene bags, tea cups, milk packets — virtually every kind of refuse has been found an innovative use by De.

De, 74, has three separate dustbins at her home — one each for paper, green waste and plastic. “I have trained my domestic help, Usha, in such a way that she knows what goes where,” she said.

“If you mix everything and throw it out, it creates problems. The idea is to segregate and reuse and that’s effective waste management,” she said.

Her little garden space has small plants in containers of paint, milk and other items. “If they become too big, then you put it in bigger containers. I go around and show people how they can do it too,” said De, who was a radiologist by profession.

Innovation has helped her create various interesting items at her house. Trays from an old refrigerator has been used to create a solar dryer for curry leaves, fenugreek and dhaniya; polythene bags stuffed in a cushion cover serve as cushions, a quilt of cotton cloth with layers of plastic bags and basic stitches on it are some of the features of this recycling heaven. Then a commodes has been turned into a pot for plant. The mother of three has also adopted a nearby park.

So is this the way forward? “In a way it is. What you need is a little motivation to carry it forward yourself and encourage others. This is not only good for environment but also helps to keep one fit and fine,” De said.

With inputs from Ritam Halder

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First Published: Apr 30, 2013 22:27 IST