‘Smart’ Pune’s garbage woes flare up again

Raising a stink: A committee set up by the villagers is now contemplating moving court against the Pune civic body for not adhering to the NGT order.  

Despite its claims of being a ‘Smart City’, there seems to be no solution to Pune’s garbage disposal problems with residents of Uruli Devachi and Phursungi villages stopping the civic body’s garbage trucks from dumping waste in the landfill near their villages for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday.

The residents, who have been protesting the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)’s dumping of waste, alleged that the civic body had not kept its promises, and this was in violation of an order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibiting open dumping across the Uruli Devachi landfill.

Following the NGT order, the PMC had assured the residents that the dumping would cease after December 31, 2019. The civic body has claimed that it has completely stopped dumping since January and has cleaned the landfill. “We have achieved 100% segregation and processing of waste in areas within the city itself, which has obviated dumping any more garbage at the [Uruli Devachi] site,” claimed Dnyaneshwar Molak, who heads the PMC’s solid waste management department.

Mr. Molak clarified the vehicles that were dumping waste in the Uruli Devachi site were those carrying ‘rejected waste’ and that it was in keeping with the NGT order.

However, the residents, who have formed a committee to abolish the garbage depot at Uruli Devachi, alleged that the PMC was violating the NGT order.

“Trucks carrying garbage to the tune of 400-500 metric tonnes are being dumped here. Nothing has been done on the bio-mining front by the civic authorities either. In reality, the PMC is hoodwinking us with hollow promises as it has no proper garbage processing plants in Pune,” said Vijay Bhadale, a member of the Uruli Fursungi Kachara Depot Hatao Samiti.

He said the dumping by the PMC had resulted in a mountain of plastic at the 20-acre landfill site, while the water supply to the villages continued to be contaminated.

The committee is now contemplating moving court against the PMC for not adhering to the NGT order.

Since 1991, these villages have been facing the depredations of Pune’s indiscriminate expansion with the problem of solid waste disposal reaching monstrous proportions.

In 1981, the Maharashtra government allotted 43 acres at Uruli and provisioned another 120 acres at Phursungi in 2003 to meet a growing Pune’s waste disposal demands.

The city’s garbage is sent to more than 45 processing centres, with the largest ones at Uruli and Phursungi — a combined 160 acres — capable of processing up to 500 tonnes of waste a day.

The methane emissions from the landfills have adversely affected the health of the villagers, who are forced to endure the ravages of water pollution as well.

Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar alleged that corruption within the Pune civic body was the root cause of the illicit dumping at Uruli Devachi.

“It is in the interests of certain authorities to perpetuate this problem. Tenders are being repeatedly given to a particular company favoured by authorities to resolve the city’s garbage woes when that company ought to have been blacklisted,” Mr. Kumbhar said.

Residents of the two villages said at least 1,900 instances of fire had been reported in the garbage dump since 2005.

To compound the problem, the PMC-run waste disposal plants set up by Hanjer Biotech at Uruli Devachi were shut down in December 20l6. Despite a waste-treating capacity of 1,000 tonnes, the decrepit plants are barely able to process 200 tonnes.

In 2016, city-based NGOs had written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, demanding an Anti-Corruption Bureau probe into the irregularities plaguing the city’s garbage processing units. The Nagrik Chetana Manch, in conjunction with the Sajag Nagrik Manch, had brought to notice the crumbling waste disposal plants, saying tax payers’ money had not been utilised properly. In 2017, a fire broke out at the depot at Uruli Devachi, leading villagers to block PMC garbage trucks for more than three weeks, triggering a major garbage disposal crisis in the city.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 9:01:08 AM |

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