Delhi's Ashok Nagar residents continue to wallow in neglect as EDMC fails to implement scientific waste management

Delhi's Ashok Nagar, one of the colonies under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, has a severe waste management and disposal problem.

Kangkan Acharyya May 08, 2018 19:01:32 IST

Delhi's Ashok Nagar, one of the colonies under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, has a severe garbage disposal problem. The area does not have a single garbage bin for its residents. The problem is so bad, said resident Parikshit Gupta, that it became the reason why his daughter's marriage broke off recently.

"The would-be groom's family came to finalise the date of the marriage. But when they saw the garbage dumped all along the road outside my home, they changed their mind," he said in a pensive mood. He said that the stench of garbage that often accumulates in front of his home is so strong that it is impossible to cross without covering one's nose.

"It is the responsibility of the municipal corporation to provide garbage bins in the locality. Due to lack of such measure from the corporation, the roads in the area remain littered," he said.

Delhis Ashok Nagar residents continue to wallow in neglect as EDMC fails to implement scientific waste management

Representational image. Getty Images

Residents in the area dump the garbage on the sides of the road that passes by Gupta's home. Soon after the waste is disposed of near the road, cows, dogs and birds begin gorging on the trash. By the time the garbage lifting vehicle of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation arrives, the waste is scattered everywhere on the road, making the task pretty difficult for the sanitation workers.

When Firstpost visited Ashok Nagar, the situation had not improved. "Many people do not like to marry a girl who lives in a colony as dirty as this one. For they think that it would be quite an embarrassment for the groom to invite his friends and family to that place," said Gupta.

Residents in the locality say that they have complained about the lack of a proper waste disposal system to the EDMC but to no avail. "Every home in the locality has at least two kilograms of garbage to dispose every day on average. Without a scientific waste disposal system, they cannot expect to take care of such a huge amount of garbage," said Sharda Sharma, a housewife.

EDMC, the urban local body in Delhi, is constantly in the headlines for its unscientific waste management system. Recently, it was in the news after the Aam Aadmi Party filed a case in the National Green Tribunal against the decision allowing EDMC to dump garbage in Sonia Vihar and Ghinda Gujjran.

Significantly, the garbage that gathers on the streets of Ashok Vihar is collected by small vehicles and are dumped in an open space in the locality. Later, the waste is carried to the landfill at Ghazipur, said Sonu, who collects garbage from lane to lane in the locality. "We have no duty hours. We roam around the area and collect garbage from roads and dump at the collection point, from where garbage is carried away by EDMC trucks to the Ghazipur landfill," he added.

The Ghazipur dumping ground shot to the headlines last year when two persons died after a mound of garbage collapsed on them. The L-G banned the use of the landfill site soon after the incident. Nearly nine months have passed by since the L-G order, but EDMC continues to dump garbage in it, further worsening the situation.

Sources in the EDMC said that due to lack of an alternative site for dumping garbage, the civic body has been continuing to dispose of garbage in the same landfill. Bipin Bihari Singh, the newly elected Mayor of EDMC told Firstpost: "Since no alternative site could be found to dump garbage, we are continuing to use the Ghazipur landfill site."

Significantly, he said that he does not have any information whether the L-G lifted the ban on dumping garbage in the Ghazipur landfill site. "I have been elevated as mayor only a few days ago, so I have no information whether the L-G had finally waived his earlier order banning dumping of garbage there," he added.

Neema Bhagat, former mayor of EDMC told Firstpost that after the L-G banned the Ghazipur landfill site last year, permission was sought to continue with the site with the plea that parts of the site which are already filled will not be further dumped on.

"The L-G did not lift the ban order but he did not object to our proposal either. So, we continued to dump garbage there near the large mound of waste," she said.

When asked whether the L-G office has lifted the ban, an official source in the Raj Bhawan said, "The L-G office did not withdraw the ban. But since no alternative site is available, the EDMC is dumping garbage in the Ghazipur landfill."

The L-G's move to ban the landfill last year came as a relief for residents of the Ghazipur, as the landfill was a source of most diseases in the area. Shamima, a resident of Mulla colony in Ghaziabad said that the stinking heap of garbage with the shape and height of a hillock as high as a five-storey building is the reason behind her misfortunes.

She got infected by tuberculosis thrice during her teenage and lost two valuable academic years. All of her friends are studying in college now while the 19-year-old is still struggling to pass ninth standard with her frail health. "If the garbage dump is removed from here, I hope none in Mulla Colony would be struck by misfortunes like me," she said.

But her hope never became a reality as the EDMC continued to dump garbage in the site even after the ban.

Though the L-G banned the site, the ban never took place practically, says Jaish Kumar a resident of Ghazipur. "The ban remained in official documents only and was never implemented in practice. Even on the day that the ban was imposed, dumping of garbage continued in the landfill," he said.

But Bhagat said that after the Ghazipur dump site was banned, EDMC attempted to shift to a site in Ranikheda. But the attempt was aborted as the local residents resisted. Though another site was proposed in Yamuna floodplains, it too faced protests from environmental NGOs.

Even as the EDMC continues dumping garbage in the landfill, thousands of people continue to fall prey to toxic air that pervades in the locality near the Ghazipur landfill site. The stench that emancipates from the landfill has made life miserable for the people living in the colonies adjacent to it.

"Many young boys and girls have suffered deadly diseases like tuberculosis, typhoid, dengue, malaria and encephalitis. Lives both old and young have been lost to diseases. The main reason of these diseases can be attributed to the infections spread by the garbage dump," said Salim Khan, a health worker in the locality.

He said that 30 percent of the patients he receives daily are inflicted with tuberculosis and many of them are teenagers. "Other diseases like dysentery, asthma, bronchitis are lifelong companions for many in Mulla Colony and other residential areas near the dumping ground," the health worker said.

As per a study published in 2015, the suspended particulate matter in Ghazipur was 1,124 micrograms per cubic metre, whereas the permissible limit was only 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

"Shifting the dump yard is not a solution to the crisis. Rather the crisis should be used to bring in a solid waste management system, which is scientific," said Satish Sinha of Toxic Links, an environmental NGO. He said that to adopt a scientific mode of waste disposal, the waste has to be segregated at the source into two parts – dry and wet. The wet waste can be used for composting and the dry waste can be sent for recycling.

He also added that if the waste segregated at source are sent to processing units, a very small amount of non-recyclable waste will be left which can be dumped in a landfill. "Everyday 8,000 metric tonnes of solid waste is generated in Delhi. If scientific waste management methods are used only 10 percent of this would reach the landfill," he said.

Residents in Ashok Nagar claim that the EDMC has not issued any notification to segregate waste at the source. "We have not received any order to segregate waste at source. So, we collect all the waste in one bag and keep it near the road for the EDMC vehicles to collect, Sharda said.

But the EDMC mayor claimed that the corporation has all along been making efforts to make people aware of the need to segregate garbage at the source. He also claimed that the corporation has provided dustbins in every locality.

But the EDMC does not seem to be in a hurry to introduce scientific garbage management system in its area. Recently, another attempt by the EDMC to shift the dumping ground to another place was aborted because of a case filed by the AAP.

The Delhi Development Authority allotted 13 acres of land at Sonia Vihar near Police Firing Range and 50 acres of land at Ghinda Gujjran to EDMC for landfill purpose, after the latter applied for allotment of land to use as a dumping ground, but AAP filed a case in the National Green Tribunal against it.

Singh said that the EDMC is still trying to find a solution to the problem that has arisen in the shifting of the landfill.

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