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Norms being flouted in ‘simmering’ landfill sites

Published : May 20, 2016, 1:14 am IST
Updated : May 20, 2016, 1:14 am IST

Overflowing garbage landfills in the national capital, which have been saturated way beyond capacity, are already simmering inside.

Overflowing garbage landfills in the national capital, which have been saturated way beyond capacity, are already simmering inside. Last month’s Bhalswa fire incident has not made any impact on authorities so far. Routine checks are not being conducted to keep a check on such hazardous incidents.

Delhi’s three landfills, Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla, creaking under the weight of waste from an ever-growing population, are way past their shelf-lives and must not be used as dumping grounds any more, the Delhi Pollution Control Board has said.

Speaking to this newspaper, think tank Toxic Link’s director Ravi Aggarwal said the authorities had failed to keep a check on the landfills. “There are proper guidelines and protocols for monitoring the landfills from time to time. The Bhalswa fire was not an out of the blue incident, most of these areas have been simmering inside. A lit matchstick or rising mercury could cause a huge incident.”

If a fire breaks out in these landfills, it will cause threat to not only those living in the areas nearby, but will lead to a polluted gaseous cloud all over the city. “It could be dangerous for the ragpickers who work atop these mountains of garbage, apart from that if the fire is not doused within minutes it can release highly-toxic amounts of carbon monoxide and other harmful gases,” said Mr Aggarwal.

The waste nightmare has been caused by a vicious circle, mostly as there is no proper segregation and dumping of garbage in the city. The waste is only collected and dumped, highlighting the glaring of a plan for the future.

There is no consensus on the amount of waste the city produces. The Environmental Protection Training and Research Institute estimates 4,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated in Delhi per day. However, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has estimated that the present solid waste generation in the city’s MCD areas is between 6,000 and 7,000 tonnes per day.

A study by the MCD to estimate the quantity and characteristics of municipal solid waste in the year 2005 had indicated that Delhi generates about 8,567 tonnes of waste every day.

An engineer, who works at a landfill site, said many norms are flouted all at once when it comes to garbage disposal, “Looking at the heap, you can figure out there are leaves, e-waste, biodegradable waste, medical waste as well. It is highly impractical to deal with this waste and segregate it now,” said Sanjay Kumar.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi