The makeover of a dumpyard

Trees being planted by Karnataka Forest Department amid stacked garbage at Mavallipura dumpyard in the city.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

Set amidst accumulated garbage mounds, stacks of plastic and even heaps of commodes, thriving saplings provide a glimpse of a dream of turning the city’s notorious blackspot into an array of green.

Once an unsightly dump, where stench precedes the sight of mounds of garbage, Mavallipura landfill is in the process of turning into a park.

Nearly half of the 45-acre landfill has been planted by the Forest Department in a first-of-its-kind attempt. In 2016, 600 saplings were planted on 7.4 acres. This year, another 1,000 saplings are being planted over a 12.5- acre area.

Planted with bamboo, pongamia, and ficus, the plants have surprisingly have a 100% survival with excellent growth despite dry conditions and the challenges of stabilising the dumpyard, said Dipika Bajpai, Deputy Conservator of Forests (Bengaluru Urban).

The process of garbage turning into soil is a slow process (called climactic succession), and often takes at least 20 years. But dumping in Mavallipura stopped just a few years ago, and officials found that barely an inch of soil was present. “We had to dig mounds, scooping out garbage and filling this with red soil brought from elsewhere. The process becomes expensive, costing us double that of normal plantation (which costs around ₹200 per plant),” said Ganesh V., Range Forest Officer (Bengaluru).

It isn’t just about greening the area. The plantation, believes forest officials, will end up aiding the recovery of the landfill in itself. As roots dig into the soil, leaf litter accumulates, the population of microbes and insects will break down the garbage faster, while even leachate accumulated will be purified.

However, much of the landfill remains inaccessible for plantation— particularly for earth movers. To counter this, Mr. Ganesh said forest officials plan to deploy a drone that can shoot seeds aerially. “As seeds disperse, we can find out which ones have sprouted and take care of them,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 12:49:02 PM |

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