It is 50m tall, spreads over 70 acres and has received 13 million tons of garbage up to now
The images of the Ghazipur landfill in New Delhi are shocking. Due to Indiaâ€™s fast economic growth, administrative apathy and poor waste management, an actual mountain of trash, taller than a 15-storey building, has been created. The Ghazipur landfill is among the four main garbage dumping spots in the capital and North Indiaâ€™s biggest one, spreading over an area of 70 acres (283,000 m2). The â€˜mountain of trashâ€™ has reached a height of 50 meters, way above the 20-metre limit stipulated by the solid-waste management rule of 2016.
Managed by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), it is receiving waste for more than 30 years. Although it reached its saturation point in 2002, the dumping site â€“ holding 13 million tons of garbage - is still open and EDMC has no plans to stop dumping at the landfill, as there are no alternatives to dispose the 10,000 tons of waste generated in Delhi every day. The cityâ€™s daily quantities of generated waste are up 50% from 2007, but are expected to double by 2024.
An accident waiting to happen
Last September, after several days of heavy rains, there was a deadly â€˜trashslideâ€™, when part of the â€˜trash mountainâ€™ collapsed. Nearby residents felt it as an earthquake and the mass of waste eventually poured into the Hindon river below, causing a large wave of water that bent the metal barriers surrounding it. Two people were killed, dozen more were injured and cars ended up in the canal, while the EDMC officials said the threat of more such landslides remain. The amount of waste that slid amounted to only 1% of its total volume, according to an IANS report.
The day after the incident, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal, ordered the closure of the landfill, while asking the EDMC to temporarily dump garbage in Ranikhela instead. However, trucks carrying waste from east Delhi soon returned to Ghazipur after they were blocked by angry residents at Ranikhela. â€œUntil we find an alternative site, we have no option but to continue dumping garbage here. We have beautified as much of it as possible,â€ says YS Mann, EDMC spokesperson.
A life-threatening situation
Residents of the nearby Mulla Colony village say that water, air and soil pollution from the open landfill has robbed them of their health. They are forced to keep their windows shut, as the air is contaminated with fine particulate matter and the smell is unbearable and many have developed respiratory diseases. The situation gets even worse during the rainy season, when the stench grows even stronger and leachate from the trash site enters adjacent canals.
â€œLife is hell here. If you open the doors and windows even for a moment, you are hit by the fetid smell. You will throw up if you are not used to it. The air here is so polluted that the pipes of our air conditioners often get corroded leading to gas leakages. So you can imagine what this air can do to the human body,â€ says Kumar, secretary of Siddharth Niketan apartment complex.
Two canals running parallel to the Ghazipur Landfill site are often contaminated with leachate. (Photo: Anthony Rozario/The Quint)
Rescue operations underway at Ghazipur landfill where a mound of garbage collapsed, in east Delhi. (Prabhat Pandey/HT)
Photo source: Hindu Times