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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Deonar landfill in Mumbai still in the dumps, BMC ignorant, says petitioner

There were major fires at the Deonar dumping ground between January and March 2016

mumbai Updated: Apr 30, 2017 00:26 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
There were major fires at the  Deonar dumping ground between January and March 2016.
There were major fires at the Deonar dumping ground between January and March 2016.(HT FILE)

A year after the Bombay high court set up a six-member committee to monitor and improve conditions at the fire-prone Deonar dumping ground, a member has told HC that no significant measures have been taken to improve the condition of the city’s largest landfill.

The committee, set up on April 20, 2016, included a retired IPS officer, a retired IAS officer, a representative from National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), an official from Indian Institute of Technology, a senior official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s solid waste management department (SWM) and Raj Kumar Sharma, the petitioner in the case. The IAS officer, who was the chairperson of the committee stepped down due to ill health.

There were major fires at the Deonar dumping ground between January and March 2016, which increased air pollution to alarming levels.

Sharma, who first filed a petition in 2014 in the court filed an affidavit saying that BMC has taken no significant steps to manage the dump. He has also asked that the committee be reinstated with a new chairperson. “Since there were no meetings held for the last two months, I was forced to go to back to the HC for help. Apart from setting up of watchtowers and CCTV cameras, no significant steps were taken and the abysmal condition of dumping ground persists,” said Sharma. “The court orders are not being followed, things have not improved and the height of trash still stands as high as 35 metres.”

According to BMC’s recent environment status report, the city generates 9,500 metric tonnes of waste daily and Deonar receives 23.5% of this. In 2016, the HC had put a ban on new construction in the city, until BMC increases its waste treatment capacity. BMC had been asked to augment waste treatment capacity to at least 11,000 tonnes per day by June 30, 2017.

He added that specific details about how both short-term and long-term orders were not being followed will be revealed during the HC hearing scheduled a fortnight away.

Civic body officials said they will be submitting an affidavit in court requesting for an extension regarding the June 30, 2017 deadline. “While there have been no fires this year, a number of security measures have been beefed up at Deonar. Additionally, the long term measure of converting waste-to-energy will be done by 2020. However, considering the quantum of waste, it is impossible to complete all short-term measures by the deadline set by court,” said a senior official from BMC’s SWM. “The affidavit is being prepared and will be submitted in court soon.”


Short-term orders

  • Increase the number of security personnel to prevent miscreants from entering the dumping ground (4-5 CCTV cameras installed, eight watchtowers erected) and setting fire to the garbage.
  • Zoning of the dumping ground to allow the civic body can cordon off the area in case of fire. (Zoning not completed)
  • High mast sodium lamps to illuminate the dump yard that will help identify miscreants. (The dumping ground is dark and dingy)
  • Fire engine inside the dumping ground (BMC in the process of procuring 11 special fire tenders)
  • Police chowky inside the dumping ground (not done)
  • Water hydrants at various locations to sprinkle water in case of a fire (not done)
  • Identification cards for rag pickers entering the dumping ground (completed)
  • Build a compound wall so that there is only one entry/exit (yet to be started)
  • Air quality monitoring station around the dumping ground (communication has been made to state pollution control board)

Long-term measures

  • The civic body must rope in private companies for scientific recycling of garbage (expected to be completed by 2020)
  • Separate section for storage of dry, wet and biomedical waste (biomedical waste storage was always separate but dry, wet and construction debris being dumped together)