The Delhi Municipal Corporation has spent a whopping Rs 275 crore to flatten the three dumpsites in Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla in the last 3 years, but the highest garbage mountain (at least 200ft) is on its way to surpassing the height of the Taj Mahal.
Every day, between 650 and 700 trucks unload about 3,000 metric tons of garbage. The height of the Ghazipur spillway should have been allowable up to 45-60ft. But right now, the trash mountain is over 213 feet tall.
As garbage accumulates and the planet heats up, affecting the climate, people’s health and the environment every day, tens of millions of people in Delhi generate around 11,143 metric tons of waste. Almost everything ends up in one of three surrounding landfills. Most of these dumps have gone beyond capacity and are overflowing with waste.
In 2019, the National Green Court (NGT) asked the government and civic bodies of AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) to deposit Rs. 250 crore rupees in an escrow account to facilitate the removal of waste from landfills. But these garbage towers have now become the sites of a tense political battle between the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi and BJP-led civic agencies ahead of the Delhi municipal elections, with both parties accusing each other of mismanagement or lack of funds.
Waste generates per day in Delhi
In October, a drone inspection report, submitted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to the NGT, revealed that the height of the Ghazipur landfill was 67 meters at the 200-meter reference level, a slight increase in comparison to 65 meters in 2019. Similarly, the Bhalswa landfill was 62 meters high, shrinking slightly from 2019’s 65 meters.
According to civic officials, the city cumulatively generates about 11,400 metric tons of garbage, of which nearly 6,200 metric tons is dumped into these three landfills.
The remaining 5,200 metric tons of trash is processed locally with the help of compactors and waste-to-energy (WTE) plants.
According to the NewsLaundry, CDM PRO Amit Kumar said “it’s not that the height hasn’t been completely reduced.” “I don’t deny that the height of the dump at some point is 65 meters, but you have to understand that these dumps are spread over a large area of land,” he added. “Suppose there is a trommel machine installed at the base, then the trash from above would be taken there for biomining. This is how the height of some parts is reduced.”
No budget for landfills
Between 2016 to 2021, Delhi’s three municipal corporations have spent more than Rs 11,750 crore on sanitation and cleaning services in the capital, the three civic bodies said in an official response to a question in the Delhi Assembly.
Data submitted by the respective environmental management service departments (sanitation departments) states that South MCD spent ₹6284.6 crore, North MCD spent ₹4998.12 crore, while East Corporation spent ₹476.6 crore on waste disposal garbage, drain cleaning and other cleanup operations from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
While all three civic bodies continue to do poorly on sanitation markers and annual Swachh Surveskhan (cleanliness survey) rankings, the last five-year period witnessed heavy mechanization of the garbage collection mechanism with the introduction of fixed/mobile compactors, automatic tippers and loaders as garbage transport was subcontracted to private concessionaires at the zonal level.
Out of 48 urban local bodies assessed in Swachh Survekshan 2021, two out of three municipal corporations in Delhi finished in the bottom 10. Rankings declared in November last year show East MCD ranked 40th, South MCD 31st and North MCD 45th, fourth to last from the bottom.
In 2018, heavy rains caused part of the hill to collapse. Two people died and as a consequence, the downloads were prohibited. The application of the measure lasted only a few days because the authorities could not find another place for the waste.
According to a recent study, the Ghazipur dumpsite poses a health risk to people living within a radius of up to five kilometres away, who already live in one of the most polluted cities in the world.
India annually generates 62 million tons of garbage and according to government data, by 2030 this figure could rise to 165 million tons per year.
Since 2000, the central has passed regulations requiring municipalities to process waste. But most states report only partial compliance and there are not enough waste treatment plants.
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