NEW DELHI: has finally found a site for a new garbage dump, not that it has enamoured the people living in its vicinity. On March 20, DDA sent a letter to Municipal Corporation informing it that a 42.5-acre plot at Ghonda-Gujran Khadar near Wazirabad was available to it on a perpetual lease for a solid waste management processing and disposal facility. In a respite of sorts for local residents, sanitation department officials said that unlike the open at , this land would be used to erect a waste processing plant.

After the overused Ghazipur landfill collapsed in September 2017 and claimed two lives, the task of finding an alternative site was initiated, but stiff resistance from residents and environmentalists scuttled possible projects at Ranikhera, Sonia Vihar and Ghonda. “We began operations at Ranikhera but had to soon return to a small portion of the existing landfill at Ghazipur. This, however, is not a long term solution for garbage disposal,” an official said.

Environmentalists are opposed to waste sites at Ghonda-Gujran and Sonia Vihar due to their proximity to the Yamuna floodplain. Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan said that the site earmarked in Ghonda lies on an active floodplain. “Water reaches this spot during flooding,” said Mishra, “and building a management facility here will wreak havoc on the ecology of the river.”

The Central Pollution Control Board, however, had, in its May 2018 report, written that the site met the criteria mentioned in Schedule 1(6) of Sewage and Waste Management Rules, 2016, namely that it was at least “1,950 metres away from a water body, 15 km from the airport, 500 m from any human settlement and not located on a floodplain”.

DDA had approved the two sites in principle last April, only to find the political parties up in arms. BJP disassociated itself with the decision, while the Aam Aadmi Party filed petitions in the National Green Tribunal. On March 12, NGT asked EDMC and DDA to sort out the allotment issue at the administrative level.

The allotment at Ghonda-Gujran still faces hurdles before it can turn into a waste disposal facility. “We will require the approval of NGT as well as of DDA’s planning wing and Delhi government’s environment ministry,” a DDA official disclosed. The land use category of the location also needs to be changed from ‘recreational’ to ‘utility’.

Sensing popular opposition in election season, Bipin Bihar Singh, EDMC mayor, declared that the allotment would not be taken up. “The House has already passed resolutions against using either Sonia Vihar or Ghonda to respect the people’s sentiments,” he said. But with Ghazipur landfill almost two decades beyond its capacity, east Delhi doesn’t have too many options right now.
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