New landfill sites need of the hour

It appears that the sky is the limit for Delhi’s growing mountains of trash. The Capital’s three sanitary landfills continue to grow by over 8,000 tonnes per day (TPD) way past their recommended capacities.

Municipal corporations that operate the landfills at Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa have been unable to shut down the polluting facilities, as they claim there just aren’t any other options.

The civic bodies have given a list of sites for potential landfills, but say that the Delhi Development Authority is yet to allot the land. The DDA has, however, given land to set up waste processing units.

Yogendra Singh Mann, the spokesperson of the North and East civic bodies that operate the Bhalswa and Okhla sites respectively, said the corporations were forced to use the landfills beyond their capacities.

“We are working on alternatives, but so far land has not been made available to us. A lot of the problem can be solved if the public cooperates with us and segregates trash and disposes it off properly,” said Mr. Mann.

Experts say the municipalities should be encouraging segregation and processing. Satwik Mudgal, a senior research associate (waste management) at the Centre for Science and Environment, said a recent study had found 40 to 60 per cent of municipal solid waste (MSW) to be biodegradable, which could be managed “easily”.

“The real problem is that municipalities treat waste as waste, and not as a resource, when nature has no concept of waste. We won’t need any more landfills if the waste is segregated and used,” said Mr. Mudgal.

From small community-based solution like the Defence Colony RWA’s compost pit to large projects like the East Delhi Municipal Corporation’s waste-to-energy plant at Ghazipur, processing will reduce the burden on landfills substantially.

Mr. Mudgal suggests that corporations pay contractors for each kilogram processed, rather than the amount of garbage collected and transported to the landfills. Households can start by separating green waste from non-biodegradable materials, composting and recycling. Small biogas generators that are the size of washing machines are also available.

Delhi needs to do something drastic soon. “Otherwise we will get buried under our own waste one day,” warns Mr. Mudgal.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 5:50:46 PM |

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