Who can move the mounds of Ghazipur?

While agencies and government blame each other, bigger question on shifting the waste remains unanswered

May 01, 2022 01:41 am | Updated 02:12 pm IST - New Delhi  

Burning issue: Boys watch from a distance as smoke billows from the Ghazipur landfill site in east Delhi

Burning issue: Boys watch from a distance as smoke billows from the Ghazipur landfill site in east Delhi | Photo Credit: File Photo

Three fire incidents have been reported at the Ghazipur landfill in the last one month but the clearing process at the site remains far from satisfactory.

According to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), 10 lakh metric tonnes of waste have been processed so far, while 140 lakh metric tonnes are still dumped at the site.

Past and present EDMC officials confide that the Ghazipur landfill remains a major area of concern. Every day, 2,500 metric tonnes of garbage is added to the “mountains of waste” at Ghazipur and it is a struggle for the civic body to lift it for clearance on a daily basis.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced last week that the city government has directed the civic bodies and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to adopt the gas sucking system installed at a dumping site in Mumbai as a measure to deal with the frequent fires caused by the continuous emission of methane at the landfill site.

Waste segregation

According to the EDMC, eight high-speed trommel machines were installed recently to segregate the waste, taking the count of the machines at the site to 26. But a former civic official pointed out that the purpose of the trommel machines, which were put into use in 2019, is defeated because the segregated waste remains untouched at the site.

“The number of trommel machines is not the issue; it is a system failure,” he said. The larger question is about where to take the waste. “There is no space and nobody is ready to shift the waste. Also, there are some constraints in installing the machines,” he said.

The waste is divided into three categories: combustibles, construction and demolition waste, and inerts. Ghazipur’s waste-to-energy power plant, which is part of an agreement between three parties — a private firm named IL and FS, the Delhi government’s Power Department and the EDMC — has been non-functional for months now and adds to the problem of waste accumulation. EDMC officials allege that the Power Department does not cooperate.

Lack of political will

The Hindu checked with EDMC officials about the height of the landfill — last measured at 65 metres. An official said, it has been reduced by “12 to 15 metres at certain stretches”. “It is tricky because we cannot say that the height has been uniformly reduced by 12-15 metres,” he said, adding that the lack of political will is also a reason for the snail-paced progress of the landfill’s clearing work.

“The councillors prefer to focus on issues that require quick-fix solutions, while the Mayors attend to issues that earn them instant political benefits. They are all aware that clearing Ghazipur is a long-drawn process and is talked about only when there is a catastrophe,” the official said.

EDMC Mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal (BJP) did not respond to The Hindu’s queries on the vital points raised by the officials while AAP’s MCD in-charge Durgesh Pathak dismissed the claim that the waste-to-energy plant was non-functional because of the non-cooperation of the Power Department.

Mr. Pathak said the private firms went bankrupt due to financial mismanagement and the equipment at the plant was unfit for use. “The owner has changed and the equipment is being refurbished. The government has no role in this, our job is to get electricity,” he said.

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