At around 50 metres, the height of garbage heaped at the Ghazipur landfill site in Delhi is barely 20 metres short of Qutub Minar, the world’s largest brick minaret. At the landfill site, ravens leisurely circle over the mountain of decaying trash, the fumes coming out of which are toxic and the stench debilitating. Commissioned in 1984, it has long outlived its utility but continues to take in over 2,500 MTD (metric tonnes daily) of garbage from East Delhi Municipal Corporation areas everyday. The facts are ominous: Delhi produces over 8,500 MTD of solid waste, but all three of its dumping grounds, with a collective capacity of 4,600 MTD are operating beyond their saturation point, at the “risk of human lives”, according to official documents. Ghazipur and the two other landfill sites, Bhalaswa and Okhla, commissioned in 1994 and 1996 respectively, were not designed as per the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, nor do they have authorisation from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
But the civic bodies argue that they have “no other option” but to use these sites and they are being “continued at the risk of human life”, according to the economic survery report. The judiciary, including the Delhi High Court, has rapped the civic bodies repeatedly over the situation, but the corporations cite unavailability of land and blame the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for not providing land. The city has three waste-to-energy plants: at Okhla, Ghazipur and Narela Bawana. Together they have the capacity to process around 4,000 MTD.
According to the DPCC, the waste produced by the civic bodies are as follows: North corporation: 3,100 MTD, South: 2,700 MTD, East: 2,200 MTD, New Delhi Municipal Council 300 MTD and Delhi Cantonment Board 70 MTD. But what is alarming is that waste generation is expected to go up to 15,000 MTD by 2020, according to the economic survery report.