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Delhi can’t dump this: How to deal with its mountain of garbage

Mar 23, 2017 16:29 IST
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Any talk about clean Delhi conjures images of the leafy burroughs of Lutyen’s Delhi, the country’s seat of power with tree-lined wide roads swept clean everyday and rows of neat buildings.For the other half of the city-state, however, it is a story of an unending struggle at urban sanitation.Elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi will be held in April 23 and the spotlight has once again veered to the functioning of the civic body, which is primarily tasked with keeping the city clean.For years, civic agencies have been repeating plans for reclaiming the oversaturated landfills but nothing has changed in reality. At least 9,100 tonnes of garbage is shipped out of homes, shops, malls, schools, hospitals and markets to the 2,500 community bins, daily. Of these, East corporation generates 2,200 tonnes, North 3,800 while South civic body daily has to remove 3,100 tonnes of garbage.It is here that an army of ragpickers and a few sanitation workers hired by the municipalities segregate the garbage, picking plastic, metal, cardboard and anything that they can sell to the recyclers. After sending 4,500 tonnes to waste-to-energy plant for incineration and 850 metric tonnes for composting, at least 3,800 tonnes makes its way to the city’s dump sites in Narela-Bawana, Bhalaswa, Okhla and Ghazipur.The landfills at Bhalaswa and Ghazipur were commissioned in 1984, and Okhla, in 1996. Except for the Narela-Bawana dumpsite that was commissioned in 2009, the other three violate state regulations. They are not designed according to the Municipal Solid Waste Rules of 2000, which mandates all such dumpsites to have eco-friendly garbage management facilities. They have no certification from Delhi Pollution Control Committee and should have shut down in 2006. But the municipalities continue to dump trash here because they have no land to set up new sites. And except for Ghazipur landfill, no measures have been taken to capture the methane gas emitted by the decomposing waste at landfills.