With the three major sanitary landfill (SLF) sites in Delhi – at Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalaswa Jahangirpuri -- turning into huge mountains of garbage and far exceeding their life span, the Supreme Court had sent the matter of municipal solid waste disposal to the Delhi High Court in 2010 as it required urgent attention.

It was felt that the High Court was better placed in identifying new SLF sites for Delhi. While at least five judges have heard the matter in the last three years, the inability of DDA, Delhi Government and municipal bodies to come up with solutions and suggestions proves that the issue has been lingering on far too long.

Commenting on the issue, Delhi Chief Secretary D. M. Spolia says: “Earlier this month, Delhi Government submitted a status report before the High Court. This report has made a mention of some sites identified for landfill.”

The High Court had in January this year asked the Delhi Chief Secretary to convene regular meetings with officials of DDA, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the civic bodies to identify these sites.

At one such meeting in February, the Commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation had explained in detail the requirement of space for the purpose in coming years. It was pointed out that approximately 500 acres was required for new landfill sites. He also said that it “was not sufficient that the DDA issue only no objection certificate while the rest of the process of acquiring land is being done by the Corporation or other departments.”

This, he cautioned, would lead to a long drawn process and not yield any results.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation has identified three sites -- behind APMC Compost Plant on G.T. Karnal Road near Hamirpur Village having an area of 11 hectares, on main Bakhtawarpur Road near Palla Village having an area of 17 hectares and a site near Ghitorni Village. It said these added up to less than 100 acres and the acquisition of land had not been completed.

The East Delhi Municipal Corporation had identified 15 acres of land for the purpose near Shastri Park.

While the Delhi Development Authority for its part has acknowledged that there is shortage of land in the South DMC and East DMC and suggested land elsewhere; the Corporations have also raised objection that it is practically impossible to transport garbage from the jurisdiction of one corporation to another in view of logistics involved.

Unhappy with the slow progress being made by the DDA vis-à-vis identification, allotment and development of landfill sites, the Chief Secretary reiterated that it is the DDA that is responsible for providing land for setting up of civic facilities in the city.

Mr. Spolia said opposition to landfills by residents in those areas where the sites have been proposed has also delayed work.

Even as a solution to the mounting waste sites is being awaited, the North and South DMC recently submitted in the High Court through their counsel Sumeet Pushkarna that: “…things have now come to such a pass that it is getting difficult to operate the present landfill sites with each passing day. However, since there’s no other option, we have been forced to continue to use these sites despite the risk of loss of human life and property.”

Mr. Pushkarna, who informed the Court that the civic bodies have already suggested sites for the landfills, has submitted that DDA should take up the issue on an urgent basis.

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