Devguradiya trenching ground: No quick-fix solution in sight

As the struggle for clean air and water by residents of Devguradiya intensifies by the day, environmentalists and solid waste management experts have very few solutions to offer that can cope with the hundreds of thousands of tonnes at the dumping ground.
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Updated on May 21, 2015 06:52 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByVinit and Nida Khan, Indore

As the struggle for clean air and water by residents of Devguradiya intensifies by the day, environmentalists and solid waste management experts have very few solutions to offer that can cope with the hundreds of thousands of tonnes at the dumping ground.

Some have suggested that the dumping ground be moved to wastelands far away from Indore and human habitation, while others feel it is highly unlikely the district administration will make efforts to shift the waste to some other area.

State of affairs

A government official said on condition of anonymity: “It’s a long process which will require acquiring of land, setting up treatment plants and an expense which will be beyond the budget of the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).”

“But who would give away their land to dump waste,” the official asked.

This is a question the administration has been grappling with since Indore’s master plan for 2021 came into force, and no solution has emerged so far.
According to an order issued on January 1, 2008, the area where the dumping ground is located is classified as a green belt.

Ideally, the district administration should have started working on the issue from the time the map for the master plan was prepared but a start was never made.

Jaywant Holkar, a retired city planning engineer of Madhya Pradesh’s Town and Country Planning department who meticulously crafted the city’s master plans of 1971 and 2021, expressed his unhappiness at the implementation of the plans.

'State govt, dist admin least bothered about addressing the trenching ground issue'

“The state government and district administration are least bothered about the master plan, or addressing the trenching ground issue,” he said.

The issue, no matter how gigantic it appears because of the garbage that has accumulated at the site, can be sorted out if the district administration and the municipal corporation have the will, Holkar said.

“It looks like the district administration is waiting for a tragedy to break out before they act.”

Expressing concern for the people living near the dumping ground, Holkar said they are in a lot of pain and agony because the administration is “too lazy to make hardcore rules”.

While suggestions to shift the dumping ground have been there for long, some officials said on condition of anonymity that the inclusion of the area in the green belt was never a good idea.

“We have not purchased the land yet at the three different identified spots (for new dumping grounds), how can we mark it as a green belt? The administration was influenced to include the land into the green belt by land mafias as the rates in the area are very high. The decision would have been feasible had some work been started to shift the dumping ground,” one official said.

'Only solution as of now is to remove the area from the green belt'

Similar views were expressed by Asad Warsi, a solid waste consultant to the IMC.

“The only solution as of now is to remove the area from the green belt and then stop constructions in the area. Otherwise it is going to be very difficult managing the situation,” he said.

Proper processing of waste is required to manage the situation, Warsi said.

“The contract between the IMC and the A2Z Company referred to processing only 500 metric tonnes. The remaining waste, which was somewhere between 400 and 500 tonnes was being burnt. If another plant is set up, then the problem can be sorted out,” he said.

Tenders have been invited for this purpose by the IMC and the cost of the new plant will be around Rs 100 crore to Rs 125 crore.

"It is a very expensive project. It is good that we at least have some subsidies, otherwise it would have been very difficult for the administration,” he said.

Short-term remedy

Fence and tighten security at the dumping ground so that rag-pickers do not torch waste.

Position fire fighters at the site to immediately douse fires.

Make the existing processing plant work at its full capacity.

Do not allow animal carcass to be burnt.

The IMC should lay pipelines for municipal water supply to stop people from exploiting groundwater.

Long-term remedy

Identify and shift the waste to other areas outside Indore and process waste with the help of treatment plants.

Instill the habit of segregating organic (biodegradable) and inorganic (non-biodegradable) waste at source.

(The series is concluded)

Read:Authorities mute spectator as miseries mount for locals

Indore's Devguradiya trenching ground plays dirty games with locals

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