Mountainous task: MCD eyes Okhla landfill flattening before G20 summit

According to an MCD official, no new waste has been dumped at the site over the past month; the Tehkhand WTE plant inaugurated in October has increased the waste processing capacity at Okhla; civic body also plans to repair roads, fix drains ahead of G20 meet in September 2023

December 26, 2022 01:28 am | Updated 11:50 am IST - New Delhi

The first Okhla waste-to-energy plant that processes slightly over 1,900 TPD of dry waste.

The first Okhla waste-to-energy plant that processes slightly over 1,900 TPD of dry waste. | Photo Credit: File Photo

With 2023 just days away, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has its work cut out for the coming year, starting with beautification works ahead of the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit.

While the civic body’s plan largely focuses on repairing roads, refurbishing signages, fixing drains, installing public art and some aesthetic improvements within its jurisdiction, a mammoth task that it has undertaken is flattening the Okhla landfill before the summit in September, which is a shift from its previous deadline of December 2023.

Commissioned in 1996, the Okhla landfill reached its saturation point in 2009, after it crossed the permissible height of 25 metres. Standing 45 metres tall, the site currently contains 45 lakh tonnes of legacy waste.

According to the MCD, areas under the erstwhile South Delhi Municipal Corporation generate 3,600 tonnes per day (TPD) of waste, of which 200 TPD was dumped at the Okhla landfill.

Shortfall covered

Explaining the new flattening deadline, a senior MCD official said that no fresh waste has been dumped at the site over the past month and the daily shortfall in processing fresh waste has been covered by the new waste-to-energy (WTE) plant in Tehkhand, which was inaugurated in October.

“We already have a WTE plant in Okhla, which processes slightly over 1,900 TPD of dry waste. The Tehkhand plant, which is partially operational, has helped cover the shortfall as it processes around 1,300 TPD. When it becomes fully operational, it will add to the processing capacity. Simultaneously, the wet waste is sent to local composting units,” said the official. He added that the Okhla landfill currently has 14 trommel machines, through which legacy waste is segregated into three categories — combustibles, construction and demolition waste, and inerts.

“Over 6,000 TPD of inerts are being lifted by the NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) from the landfill [used for laying roads]. Apart from this, over 500 TPD of combustibles are being taken care of. Going by this progress, the landfill will be flattened before the summit,” the official, who requested anonymity, added.

Missed deadlines

Even as several senior officials remain confident that the flattening will be done in time, others remain doubtful, adding that deadlines have been missed in the past. “We have faced challenges in the past, and flattening an entire landfill in less than a year sounds very ambitious. The positive side is that there will be a new party [Aam Aadmi Party] leading the civic body and they have showed some political will to improve sanitation and flatten the landfills,” said another MCD official.

Currently, the city generates 11,000 TPD of fresh waste, and the civic body’s daily waste processing capacity stands at slightly over 8,200 TPD.

While the MCD is working to raise its processing capacity by 3,400 TPD by August 2025, it has also set a deadline to flatten the two other landfills — Bhalswa and Ghazipur — by December 2023 and March 2024, respectively.

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