A massive fire broke out in Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill, Asia’s largest garbage mountain, a few days back, on April 21, 2024. 

Although no casualties came into the picture, the residents complained of severe respiratory problems because of the fire. You must have heard of this particular landfill a lot of times so, here are some interesting facts about the issue. 

The Frequent Occurrence Of Fire In Ghazipur’s Landfill: 

Post the incident, the Delhi government ordered its environment department to form a comprehensive report detailing the cause of the fire and proposing a preventive action plan to prevent similar incidents from happening again at these sites. 

This is not the first time that such a fire broke out in Ghazipur’s landfill. Last year, on June 23, a very similar incident took place, and in 2022, a fire broke out in this landfill, thrice. 

This repeated issue has triggered political blame, as different parties point fingers at each other for not taking any action to resolve it. 

What Is Being Done To Tackle The Issue?

Nitin Gadkari, the Union minister for Transport and Highways said that 20 lakh tonnes of waste from Ghazipur’s landfills will be used in the construction of the third ‘Ring Road’ in Delhi. The purpose of this move is to reduce pollution caused by garbage and the project is part of the ‘Urban Extension Road Project’.

The government has introduced the ‘Garbage-To-Road policy’ to lower the height of the ever-piling garbage mountain in Ghazipur. 

Apart from this, plans to make crude oil from plastic and the use of glass in cement for construction are also under consideration. Concerned authorities have been deployed to work and verify the same. This method has been used to construct roads in Ahmedabad as well.

Adding on, the increase in demand for fuel will surely increase pollution. To which the minister said, “There is an alternative fuel and biofuel,” adding that Brazil uses 26% ethanol in its vehicles and has set necessary vehicular standards for the same and that farmers in India will soon make aviation fuel.

For this very reason, a waste-to-power (WTP) plant was launched at Ghazipur last year. By using the process of bio-gasification, the plant will convert organic waste weighing up to 15 tonnes into 1,500 units of electricity.

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Moreover, the garbage will be mined to convert into refuse fuel (RDF) to be used for energy generation and the ten-acre landfill area has been given to the Gas Authority of India (GAI) for mining methane and other gases to be used as fuel.

Recycling and reusing the mountains of garbage are the ways out to tackle the problem, amidst the issue of the capital city struggling to find space to dump 7,000 tonnes of daily municipal waste. 

The Ghazipur landfill is extremely hazardous and susceptible to fires, especially in this weather, as the temperature is rising at unprecedented levels. The Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) has found that 65-75% of segregated waste can be utilised for some useful purposes. 

The NHAI, in an official release, said that it plans to utilise solid waste and other materials for the widening of NH-24 and the construction of the greenfield Meerut Expressway. “To allay the doubts of concessionaires and to encourage them to utilise this waste, NHAI has offered to indemnify the concessionaires for the stretches where this waste material shall be tried,” it added.

In fact, not only the government but also startups are growing aware of the dire situation and the hazards caused by these landfills. Thus, many have come up with ideas and solutions to tackle the issue.

For example, ‘The Disposal Company’ is one such move which helps brands neutralise their plastic waste by recycling an equal amount. Mumbai-based Bhagyashree Bhansali started this company in February 2020, it works with rag pickers and waste segregation in Delhi who retrieve plastic waste from Ghazipur landfills.

The Disposal Company neutralises the plastic waste generated by a brand by recovering an equal amount of plastic from landfills and recycling it. We then report it to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB),” said the entrepreneur. The company segregates the plastic it collects from the Ghazipur landfill and then sends it to recyclers. 

The startup today works with 70 brands across India, Singapore and the UK. Its clients include companies like mCaffeine, Slurrp Farm, The Souled Store, Bombay Shaving Company, Blue Tokai Coffee, and SLAY Coffee.

The Need To Step Up The Game: 

Although various policies and measures have been taken, implementation processes need to step up. The time is running out as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has until December 2024 to flatten the Ghazipur landfill, while the BJP-AAP blame game goes on. 

Two other vast dumping grounds, namely Okhla and Bhalswa, too need to be cleared. These three sites, together occupy 200 acres of land. India’s cities can no longer afford to ignore the stench, illnesses, pollution, fires, and accidents at landfills.

Private companies too have been involved in the process of scientifically processing the waste and reusing the fractions. “We have processed 13 lakh metric tonnes [of waste] in eight months at the Okhla landfill. We are confident of completing the job within the deadline,” said Ramakant Burman, managing director of Greentech Environ Management Pvt. Ltd., a company dealing with biomedical waste management services. 

However, experts are sceptical of the tight deadlines. Although these deadlines are a positive step and quite ambitious, flattening the land will likely take many more months before it can be reused for other useful purposes. The biggest hurdle is the lack of disposal infrastructure for new waste generated in the city. 

The dumpsites cannot be cleared at the rate at which the legacy waste is currently being processed. Additionally, different machines used at various sites have varying capacities to process the waste,” said Richa Singh, programme manager of the solid waste management team at a think tank called the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Although there are a plethora of problems related to the huge Ghazipur landfill, however, various initiatives and steps are being taken to tackle the issue. Not only that, even the youth is growing aware of this grave issue, and is taking measures to spread awareness.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: ABP Live, Business Standard, Central Road Research Institute

Find the blogger: Unusha Ahmad

This post is tagged under: Ghazipur, landfill, Delhi, Asia, ring road, WTP, RDF, GAI, CRRI, NHAI, CPCB, MCD

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, or copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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