In a city where population increases at about 3.5 per cent per annum and the per capita waste generated rises by 1.3 per cent in the same period, devoting additional land to efficiently treat and dispose of the garbage generated is posing a problem.
Delhi needs more than 1,500 acres for the purpose, according to civic body officials. The municipal corporations emphasise the problem is one of planning and not execution.
Delhi produces 9,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. More than 70,000 sanitation workers of the three corporations manage this. Beyond official realms, there are 80,000 to 1,00,000 ragpickers. Assuming that a ragpicker picks up 50 kg of waste every day, it reduces the load for treatment and disposal by 1,200 to 1,500 tonnes per day, say corporation officials.
Civic officials claim in discussions with the state and the Delhi Development Authority during the process of drawing up of the Delhi Master Plan, both were “advised of the need for approximately 1,500 acres of land for dealing with the city’s waste”. The three corporations require a minimum of 200 acres each to sustain waste processing for the next 50 years.
Of the 20 Sanitary Landfill Sites developed since 1975, 15 have been closed and work suspended at two. At present, Delhi has four landfill sites and three of them operate beyond capacity. The sites are in the north — Bhalswa and Narela-Bawana; one in the east — Ghazipur; and one in the south — Okhla.
While the permissible upper limit for dumping garbage at a landfill is approximately 15 to 20 metres, the sites at Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa are past 40 metres.
“It’s a multifaceted problem. We require more land and machinery to appropriately dispose of waste. But with multiple agencies involved, that becomes a problem. As for equipment, there are issues of funds,” says North Delhi mayor Dr Sanjeev Nayyar.
The secondary collection and transportation of Municipal Solid Waste from receptacles (dhalaos) is done through private concessionaires.
The transportation of garbage, however, is done by the corporation involving a large number of staff, mobile equipment and plant. The primary and secondary collection and transportation of garbage to Sanitary Landfill Sites for processing, which involves recycling, compacting and generation of energy, is the job of the three corporations.
The Municipal Solid Waste operation under Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) is by far the biggest as compared to the New Delhi Municipal Council covering the Lutyens’ zone or the Cantonment Board that looks at Delhi Cantt. This includes sweeping of streets, waste transportation and waste disposal. Of the total waste collected, 15 per cent is inert, while the biodegradable 85 per cent is sent for composting and then to the waste-to-energy plant as Refuse Derived Fuel for power generation.
At present, the Okhla waste-to-energy plant is operational. The Ghazipur plant has been in trial since November 2015 and the one in Narela is expected to begin operations by next month.