Search for landfill site faces barrier

Anjali Dhal Samanta

NEW DELHI: Desperate attempts by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to find a landfill site for solid waste disposal have hit a new roadblock. Even as some members of the Ridge Management Board strongly objected to MCD's suggestion for proposing a part of Bhatti mines area as a landfill site, a recent verification has revealed that the proposed land is not only a part of the Ridge area but also falls under a wildlife sanctuary.

Worse, the allocation of a landfill site in the area could mean thwarting a Rs. 823 lakhs project of rehabilitating the Bhatti mines.

A recent verification of the Bhatti mines over the past week by the Delhi Department of Forest and Wildlife has confirmed that the `khasra' numbers of the pits proposed for the landfill site do fall under the wildlife sanctuary area. Since this is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, it would require permission from the National Board of Wildlife to divert this area.

"The proposed area for the landfill does fall under the wildlife sanctuary zone and the reserve forest area. We will be informing the MCD about this soon. We haven't given them permission yet for the landfill site. The decision will now be taken at the highest level,'' said the Delhi Minister for Environment and Forest, Raj Kumar Chauhan.

Aside from falling under the Protected Area category, the proposal for demarcation of the area for a landfill site in Bhatti mines reflects poor planning. The proposed area is supposed to be a part of the land where a rehabilitation project through the Eco Task Force of the Territorial Army and Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems of Delhi University has been underway for the past few years. Started in 2000-2001, Rs. 832 lakhs had been allocated for the five-year project. Almost on its last leg now, most of the pits falling under the proposed landfill site have already been rehabilitated and greened under the project.

However, the MCD officials argue that the area proposed for the landfill does not fall under the Protected Area, except for the Ridge. As for the plantations, officials claim that the pits are too deep for any serious plantations. ``The depth of the pits in many places is more than 30 metres. It is not possible to go inside and plant there. Some kekar shrubs have been planted but those can be grown anywhere. Anyway, once the landfill site has been constructed, we would make the area green. After all, garbage is also an environment concern for the city,'' said Conservancy and Sanitation Engineering Department Head of MCD, Ravi Dass.

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