Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement representing thousands of citizens from Gurugram, Faridabad, Delhi, other NCR cities and across India strongly condemns the decision of the Haryana government to operate the polluting Bandhwari landfill in the ecologically fragile Aravallis and their regressive plan to build a polluting waste to energy plant in the green lungs and critical water recharge zone of India’s National Capital Region which is already reeling under the impacts of severe air pollution and water stress. This film presents the problem and the solutions.
DUMPING OF WASTE AT BANDHWARI LANDFILL LOCATED IN THE ARAVALLI FOREST IS THREATENING WILDLIFE AND HEALTH OF PEOPLE IN NCR
The Bandhwari landfill site where 2000 tons of Gurugram and Faridabad’s unsegregated mixed waste is dumped everyday needs to be removed from the middle of the eco-sensitive Aravallis. This landfill now taller than the surrounding Aravalli hills is estimated to have 35 lakh plus tonnes of untreated, toxic mixed waste. It is a violation of all norms, especially the rules connected with the forest, the environment and the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. Plastic, metals and biomedical refuse have created a toxic mix polluting the soil, air and water.
“Earlier, the air in this area was clean and there was no pollution. Since this dumping yard has come up here, we are facing a lot of problems. It is difficult to breathe when the wind blows because it brings a very foul odour with it. Many people are falling sick here.” These are the words of Rajkumar who lives in Bandhwari village which is right next to this monstrous landfill.
“Proximity to the landfill has caused many diseases amongst the people and the cattle in Bandhwari village. Cattle die eating the toxic mixed waste at Bandhwari landfill site,” says Dayawati, a lady resident of Bandhwari village.
The Bandhwari landfill was established on an abandoned 250 feet deep mining pit which is very close to the ground water aquifer and has triggered a public health crisis in the surrounding areas. Because of the negligence of the authorities, every time it rains, the toxic leachate full of poisonous substances is allowed to flow into the surrounding Aravalli forest that has created toxic pools of water in various places.
“Water smells very foul. The contaminated water has given me a liver disease,” states Sammat, a woman in her 40s from Bandhwari village.
UNDERGROUND WATER OF INDIA’S NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION POISONED BY BANDHWARI LANDFILL LEACHATE
Groundwater contamination from the toxic leachate has increased from 3 villages in 2017 to 5 villages in 2019. Reputed government agencies like the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) have tested the ground water near Bandhwari landfill site and confirmed that the ground water around the Bandhwari landfill site contains iron, manganese, boron, calcium, chlorides and nitrates in excess of India’s drinking water standards and is completely unfit for drinking.
In January 2022, Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement got a sample of the leachate flowing out of the Bandhwari landfill into the nearby forest and got it tested by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
POLLUTANTS FOUND IN LEACHATE SAMPLE IN CSE REPORT:
Biological Oxygen Demand: 2465 (against Ministry of Environment standard of 350 mg/l)
Chemical Oxygen Demand is 10892 (against standard of 250 mg/l)
Faecal Coliform: 93000 (against a standard of less than 1,000 for every 100 ml of water)
Dr Richa Singh, Waste Expert at CSE stated, ” The level of pollutants that we found in the leachate sample was 100 times more polluting than urban waste waters. So this is very hazardous for the health of the Aravallis as this contaminated water will ultimately reach the ground water making it unfit for drinking.”
“Ever since Bandhwari landfill has come near our village, many residents have been getting cancer, heart problems and breathing ailments. About 60 people have died of cancer. My own mother is suffering from stomach cancer,” says Joginder, a young man from Bandhwari village.
“Bandhwari landfill has completely contaminated our underground water which has become undrinkable. It is not fit for drinking or cooking anymore. Every family spends an extra INR 1000 to 3000 to buy filtered water from the market. This is a huge financial burden on the villagers.” These are the words of Tejpal Harsana, a resident of Bandhwari village.
Jackals, peacocks and other animals in this wildlife rich zone as well as cattle from the nearby villages have been dying after drinking the poisoned water. In the absence of canal water, this region around the Bandhwari landfill with a population of about 30,000+ people is entirely dependent on groundwater for their daily sustenance and are at risk from groundwater contamination due to leachate poisoning from the Bandhwari landfill.
The toxins pouring out of the Bandhwari landfill are not just negatively impacting wildlife and people living in the vicinity of the landfill but seeping into the groundwater aquifer that feeds NCR cities. If dumping of waste in Bandhwari is not stopped and the landfill removed by using the tried and tested bioremediation technique as done in Indore and other cities, this toxic water will soon be coming out of the taps of homes in Gurugram, Faridabad and Delhi affecting the health of millions of residents living in the National Capital Region.
HIGHLIGHTING THIS CAUSE
Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement has done many on ground protests, nationwide tweetstorms, social media and email campaigns to highlight this issue. Our change.org petition has 34185+ signatures. We have met the local MLAs and Haryana’s Chief Minister & Deputy CM regarding the mess that the Bandhwari landfill is creating and suggested sustainable solutions but there seems to be no political and administrative will to solve the problem.
This video captures voices of NCR citizens in one on ground protest.
TOXIC WASTE FROM BANDHWARI LANDFILL DUMPED IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS IN THE ARAVALLIS IS PLAYING HAVOC WITH THE CRITIAL WATER RECHARGE ZONE OF NCR CITIES
In early January 2022, we came to know that solid waste from the Bandhwari landfill was being dumped in mining quarries and protected forest areas in different locations in the Aravallis in Gurgaon and Faridabad. These mining quarries are the lifeline for water recharge in the Aravallis and should not have any waste lying in them.
Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement decided to get this dumped solid waste tested. We reached out to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) for this. The CSE’s Environment Monitoring Lab team came down on the 14th of January 2022 and collected samples from the solid waste thrown in the Aravalli forest just a few metres after the toll near the Bandhwari landfill on the Gurgaon – Faridabad road. This waste had an extremely foul smell and noxious fumes were seen coming out of it.
POLLUTANTS FOUND IN SOLID WASTE SAMPLE IN CSE REPORT:
Chromium is 262 and Nickel is 128 against safe limit of under 50 prescribed under compost standards under solid waste management rules of India
Faecal Coliform: 73,99,539 (against international standard of less than 1000 MPN / gram of total solids)
E.Coli: 17,69,455 (way above prescribed international standard)
COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF ENVIRONMENT EXPERTS
Dr Richa Singh, Waste Expert at the Centre for Science and Environment stated, “Toxic metals which are found in the solid waste are extremely hazardous for the health of the entire ecosystem in the Aravallis because the toxics metals have an inherent property to get bio accumulated in the plants as well as the animals so whatever is dumped over there, it is going to get into the ecosystem and the food chain.”
Dr Shyamala Mani, an Expert in Waste Management, Environment and Public Health with 25 years of international experience in India and South Asia and who has served as a member of Technical & Advisory Committees in the Government of India Ministries of Environment and Forests, Science and Technology, Health & Family Welfare and Education says: “Percentage of heavy metals especially chromium, nickel and mercury are high since domestic garbage often contains high amounts of discarded batteries, paints and bulbs especially tube-lights and CFLs. Hence, it is recommended that the dumping of the mixed solid waste at Bandhwari waste dumpsite or landfill site, is discontinued with immediate effect and the dump, which is a menace to the highly sensitive region of the Aravallis and the biodiversity therein besides all the human habitation close to the Bandhwari dumpsite, is vacated. It is also recommended that the earlier ecosystem and biodiversity is restored through bioremediation and afforestation processes.”
In March 2022, the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement shared the report from the Centre for Science and Environment with the government authorities. On 17th May 2022, when we visited the sites, the solid waste dumped in different Aravalli locations was still lying there. In 4 months (mid January to mid May 2022), the authorities could not get their act together and this waste full of toxic heavy metals as shown in the CSE report is continuing to leach into NCR’s ground water aquifers putting the health of 30 million people living in India’s National Capital Region at risk.
PLAN TO CONSTRUCT A WASTE TO ENERGY PLANT IN THE ARAVALLIS NEEDS TO BE CANCELLED
Despite the fact that waste incineration is a completely failed model in India, the Haryana government is in the process of setting up a waste to energy plant in the Aravalli forest at the Bandhwari landfill site, which is not only a complete waste of INR 700+ crores but is another environmental disaster in the making. In this video, Waste Expert Swati Sambyal explains 5 reasons why waste to energy model is a failure in India and gives solution for dealing with the small fraction of a city’s waste that cannot be recycled or composted.
In the public hearing that took place on 31st August 2021 at Bandhwari landfill site, citizens from Gurgaon, Faridabad, Delhi and the villages such as Bandhwari, Manger, Gwal Pahadi etc around the landfill said a resounding “NO” to the government’s plan to set up the waste to energy plant (WTE) in the Aravallis. Sharing a video of the public hearing which highlights voices of different urban and rural citizens on the Bandhwari landfill and WTE issue.
In December 2021, the Chief Minister of Haryana laid the foundation stone for the waste incineration plant at Bandhwari landfill. This blog has details of citizens detained by the police for silently protesting outside the venue.
OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE WASTE TO ENERGY PLANT
OBJECTION 1: Site for proposed waste to energy plant at Bandhwari is in eco sensitive Aravallis which sustains life in India’s National Capital Region
A waste to energy plant releasing toxic emissions and bottom ash cannot be constructed in NCR’s green lungs and key water recharge zone. According to the Central Ground Water Authority, this area of the Aravallis where the Bandhwari landfill is situated and the waste to energy plant is proposed to be built is a very critical water recharge zone for the extremely water stressed cities of the National Capital Region. Bottom ash generated by waste to energy plants is extremely toxic and must be disposed in a properly built hazardous treatment facility. However, in India, it is common practice for the waste to energy plants that are currently operating to dump this toxic ash in the open thereby polluting our land, surface water bodies, ground water and air. Toxic ash coming out of the proposed 25 MW waste to energy plant at Bandhwari will completely destroy the surface water bodies in the Aravalli forest, pollute the air and contaminate the underground water aquifers feeding the NCR cities threatening the life of millions of residents living in India’s National Capital Region.
OBJECTION 2: Site for proposed waste to energy plant is a rich wildlife zone
This stretch of the Aravalli forest where the waste to energy plant is being proposed at Bandhwari is very rich in wildlife acting as a wildlife corridor between Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary in Delhi and Sariska wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan. A survey of Aravalli forests of Gurugram, Faridabad and Delhi conducted in 2019 by the Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) revealed that these forests are home to a rich diversity of wildlife especially rare native species of the Aravallis such as Honey Badger, Indian Fox, Ruddy Mongoose, Hyena, Grey Langur etc. Two species – the Leopard and the Honey Badger are classified as endangered under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act while three of the meso-carnivore species found in the region are thought to be declining in the northern Aravallis and in other parts of India. These are the Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat and Ruddy Mongoose.
A survey by the Wildlife Institute of India in the Haryana Aravallis in 2017 had also shown significant presence of wildlife, including Leopards, Hyenas, Jackals, Nilgais, Porcupines, Palm Civets, Rhesus Macaques, Reptiles and Birds in this region.
OBJECTION 3: Site for building waste to energy plant is close to Mangar Bani, NCR’s last remaining patch of original Aravalli native forest and the place where the recent discovery of Palaeolithic cave paintings that are among the oldest in India has been made.
a) Ecological importance of Manger Bani:
For centuries, residents of Manger village near Bandhwari where the waste to energy plant is being proposed have revered the vegetation in the grove and abstained from cutting the trees. As a result, Mangerbani hosts the best-preserved vegetation of the Aravallis in Haryana such as native forests of Dhok, Salai etc. Mangar Bani is also the primary pathway for the north-south movement of wildlife. It connects Damdama lake in the south of Gurugram to Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary in the north. Signs of leopards have been spotted regularly in the valleys and paths of Mangar Bani.
Apart from mammals, Manger Bani boasts a rich diversity of birds reflecting its “high conservation value”. A year-long survey of birds carried out in 2019 by the Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) found that the forests of Mangar host 215+ species of birds. Most of these are not very frequently seen in other dry forests in NCR. These include rare species such as the Grey-Bellied Cuckoo, Crested Bunting, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Eurasian Wryneck, Crested Serpent Eagle, Indian Pitta, Red Munia, White-Bellied Drongo and Common Woodshrike. Five “nationally endangered raptor species” including King Vulture and Egyptian Vulture, and six bird species that have been showing a “national-level decline” including the Yellow Crowned Woodpecker and Short-Toed Snake Eagle are also found to be “thriving” in the Mangar landscape.
Conservation of Mangar Bani, along with the surrounding Aravalli forests is critical for maintaining NCR’s native flora and fauna biodiversity. A polluting waste to energy plant at Bandhwari, close to Manger Bani is a huge threat to the Aravalli forest and its rich wildlife.
b) Historical and cultural significance of Manger Bani:
In the summer of 2021, archaeologists have discovered 20,000 to 30,000 year old cave paintings close to Mangar Bani. The site of the cave paintings is extremely close to Bandhwari where the waste to energy plant is being proposed. These paintings belong to the Upper Palaeolithic age, which could potentially make them one of the oldest cave arts in the country. Unlike Central India and other places that are rich in rock paintings, no rock paintings have been found in the Aravallis until now. The findings may well change the history of Haryana as it is for the first time that cave paintings and rock art of such a large magnitude have been found in the state.
Ashok Khemka, Principal Secretary to the Haryana government, archaeology and museums department, said: “We will definitely be giving Mangar Bani forest state protection under Section 4 of Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964 because of the presence of a large number of stone age cave paintings that have been found there.”
The danger is that toxic emissions and smoke from the proposed waste to energy plant could destroy this cave art that dates back thousands of years.
Haryana government needs to respect the cultural and ecological significance of the Aravallis and revoke permission for toxic, polluting industries in the oldest mountain range of India.
OBJECTION 4: Environment Clearance got in November 2019 from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for the waste to energy plant (15 MW capacity) was obtained by submitting false information in the Environment Impact Assessment and needs to be revoked
The below violations make the Environment Clearance obtained from MoEFCC liable to be cancelled, as per the provisions of Para 8 (vi) of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, which states: “Deliberate concealment and/or submission of false or misleading information or data which is material to screening or scoping or appraisal or decision on the application shall make the application liable for rejection, and cancellation of prior environmental clearance.”
a) Facts not disclosed by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram in the application form while seeking Environmental Clearance for the waste to energy plant:
Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) concealed and misrepresented information in Form-1 which forms the basic document on the basis of which Appraisal by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and MoEFCC is initiated under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. In Form-1, MCG concealed material information about the waste to energy plant project site being in the eco-sensitive forest area of Aravallis, close to several water bodies and the scared grove of Mangar Bani.
When asked in the application form (Form-1) if there is any forest land involved in the project, MCG only mentioned about the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary which is located at a distance of 6 kms from the proposed site. MCG did not mention that the waste to energy plant will come up within the Aravalli forest area failing to disclose to MoEFCC’s Expert Appraisal Committee that the site is located on 30+ acres of Aravalli land. Of this, 14.86 acres comes under Aravalli Plantation Project, which as per earlier Supreme Court orders, gives the land legal “forest status” with protection under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The land is also recorded as “Gair Mumkin Pahad” or uncultivable hilly land, in the revenue books and is protected by MoEFCC’s Aravalli Notification of 1992.
Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) also did not disclose in the application form that the proposed site for waste to energy plant is close to Mangar Bani, Delhi-NCR’s last remaining patch of original Aravalli native forest which acts as a critical wildlife corridor.
b) Faulty information furnished in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report regarding air and water quality:
Municipal Corporation of Gurugram submitted a completely misleading EIA Report to MoEFCC’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) wherein erroneous facts regarding air quality as well ground water quality were given in order to obtain the Environmental Clearance for the waste to energy plant. With regard to air quality, the EIA Report was completely misleading by stating that during the baseline study period (December 2016), the air quality was meeting the NAAQ standards. The fact is that 2016 was one of the worst winters in the Delhi NCR region where the AQI had touched an unprecedented 999.
MCG also did not disclose to MoEFCC’s Expert Appraisal Committee any information about groundwater contamination in the area, despite reports confirming it. Pollutants from the landfill have leached into Bandhwari’s groundwater, which was deemed unfit for human consumption by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2017. CPCB report submitted to NGT in August 2017 stated:
“Nitrate in the ground water samples from Manger & Bhandwari village are not complying the drinking water standards hence ground water at Manger & Bandhwari village is not fit for drinking purpose. High values of Mn, CA, Boron, Chloride content at borewell at landfill site and borewell at Dera village 500m away from landfill site are observed. Such contents of Mn, CA, Boron and Chloride are higher than acceptable upper limits for drinking purposes as per BIS 10500:2012. This may be attributed to contamination of borewells from the landfill site.”
In an order dated 1 March 2019, NGT observed:
“It is clear that damage to the environment is taking place by contamination of ground water on account of leachate discharge.”
There is no mention of the 2017 CPCB report regarding ground water pollution around Bandhwari landfill or NGT order in MCG’s EIA report. Spirit of the EIA notification mandates that such disclosures be made to the MoEFCC’s Expert Appraisal Committee. MCG’s own EIA report, based on data collected between December 2016 and February 2017, is in stark contrast to these findings. Despite there being several reports that the ground water around the Bandhwari landfill site is highly polluted and contaminated and is posing a health threat, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram has stated as follows in the EIA Report:
“Heavy metals were found to be absent in the ground water analysed at 7 locations around the landfill. It is seen that the physicochemical analysis of other parameters like chloride, calcium, magnesium, nitrate and fluoride were found within the desirable limit of Indian drinking water standards i.e IS (10500:2012).”
c) Lack of detailed scrutiny by MoEFCC’s Expert Appraisal Committee:
Without considering any of the material issues at hand and applying its mind by undertaking a “detailed scrutiny” of the documents submitted by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram and without verifying compliance of the TOR issued by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, the Expert Appraisal Committee recommended the waste to energy plant for grant of Environmental Clearance in the meeting dated 20.08.2019 and Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change granted the Environment Clearance vide letter dated 01.11.2019.
This Environment Clearance given by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change for a 15 MW waste to energy plant in the Aravalli forest needs to be revoked.
OBJECTION 5: Waste at Bandhwari landfill is unfit to be burnt for generating power
Eco Green, the waste vendor of Municipal Corporations of Gurugram & Faridabad is not collecting segregated waste nor processing the waste properly. In violation of all solid waste management and environment norms, 2000 tons of mixed waste is dumped at Bandhwari landfill everyday. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had inspected the Bandhwari landfill site on 4th February 2020 and submitted a report to the National Green Tribunal.
A news article dated 03.03.2020 titled “Bandhwari waste unfit to be burnt for generating power: CPCB report” published in the Hindustan Times reported as follows:
“Arrangements made by MCG’s waste management concessionaire Ecogreen Energy to obtain refuse derived fuel (RDF) at Bandhwari landfill are inadequate and quality of processed waste / RDF generated is unfit to be incinerated to generate electricity. The RDF does not conform to the parameters specified in the ‘Guidelines on usage of RDF’ by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The RDF produced at Bandhwari was found to have high moisture content (when derived from fresh waste) and ash, leachate and mud content (when derived from legacy waste), making it unfit for incineration in the WTE plant.”
About 60% of municipal solid waste in Gurugram and Faridabad cities is wet (food) waste. About 30% is dry waste and out of this, the non-recyclable, high calorific value waste which could potentially go into a waste to energy plant is just about 10 to 15%. The questions to be asked are:
- Why do we need such a high capital-intensive technology just to burn 10 to 15% of our non-recyclable waste?
- Why is the government proposing expanding capacity of the waste to energy plant to 25 MW when even a 15 MW WTE plant is not required?
OBJECTION 6: Non-viability of waste to energy plants in India
Out of about 11 waste to energy plants set up in India till now, more than half have closed down. Few that are running are hugely flouting environment and pollution norms. There are several reasons for this.
a) Composition of Indian municipal waste is not suitable for burning in a waste to energy plant:
The waste to energy plants in Germany, Sweden and other European nations receive largely segregated waste whose calorific value (the amount of heat or energy produced when waste is burnt) is extremely high ranging between 2000 to 3800 kcal/kg. The EU waste hierarchy puts prevention, reuse and recycling first, followed by recovery and disposal. As compared to Western countries, most cities in India collect unsegregated, mixed waste, which has a very high moisture content as a result of the food waste (50 to 60 per cent) and so the calorific value of municipal waste in India is extremely low. According to Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, the calorific value of waste that is burnt in a waste to energy plant should be more than 2000 kilocal per kg. However, the calorific value of the mixed waste in some of the WTE plants in India is so low that they use additional fuel like diesel to burn, which makes these plants extremely expensive to run and very polluting as well. Calorific value of waste in India is as low as 1411 kcal/kg, as per ‘To Burn or Not to Burn: Feasibility of Waste to Energy Plants in India’, a report published by Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). This has been the main reason why WTE plants in Kanpur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Vijayawada, Karimnagar, etc have closed down.
b) India’s waste to energy plants are financially unviable:
- WTE plants are extremely expensive despite massive subsidies: India’s WTE plants remain expensive despite several subsidies that are roughly equal to 40% of the project cost.
- Cost of power generation from WTEs is highest among all sources of electricity: states the CSE report – ‘To Burn or Not to Burn: Feasibility of Waste to Energy Plants in India’. WTE plants sell electricity at Rs 7 – 8 per kWh (kilowatt hour), which is twice the sale price of electricity from coal and solar plants (Rs 3-4 kWh). Hence, discoms are not interested in buying such expensive electricity when cheaper options are available.
OBJECTION 7: Environmental violations and pollution caused by waste to energy plants in India
Repeated violations by most WTE plants across India have triggered widespread protests by citizens and hefty penalties from courts.
a) Toxic emissions from WTE plants and the negative impact on the health of people:
A report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted to the National Green Tribunal and Supreme Court in September 2020, showed that waste to energy plants located in the Okhla, Bawana and Ghazipur areas of Delhi are releasing a toxic mix of chemicals such as Dioxins, Furans, PM 2.5 and highly polluting Bottom Ash into the environment. Inhaling PM 2.5 particles can lead to cardio-vascular diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory disorders. Dioxins and Furans emitted by waste to energy plants by incineration at low temperatures are among the most toxic substances known to man and can lead to cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
According to Dr. Shailendra Bhadoriya, Cardiologist at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute (near Okhla waste to energy plant in Delhi):
“The number of asthma patients admitted to emergency and intensive care units has gone up since the Okhla WTE plant was set up. As far as impact of pollution goes, it affects all body. It is not just about the lungs. It affects heart, brain, everything.”
b) Bottom ash generated by WTE plants is extremely hazardous to the health of the people and the environment:
It is also important to note that WTE plants burning unsegregated, mixed waste also results in generation of toxic ash that must be carefully disposed of, but in reality this is never actually done.
Swati Sambyal, Waste Management Expert says, “An efficiently run waste to energy plant should only generate bottom ash upto 15 to 20%. However, in India, all the waste to energy plants that are running are generating ash upto 30 to 40%. It is common practice for waste to energy plants in India to dump this ash in the open polluting our land, water aquifers & air.”
For instance, the toxic ash from the Okhla WTE in Delhi is dumped in the village of Tajpur Pahari on the Badarpur border. This toxic ash dump has already contaminated the groundwater in the area. This bottom ash is also extremely toxic for the health of the waste workers who try to sift through this ash to recover recyclable material that they can sell and eke out a living.
OBJECTION 8: Incapability of EcoGreen, the agency entrusted with setting up WTE plant at Bandhwari
EcoGreen was entrusted by Municipal Corporation of Gurugram, Municipal Corporation of Faridabad and the state government of Haryana for an integrated waste management project in year 2017. Since then Ecogreen has been regularly slapped multiple fines by various government agencies on account of breach of contract, open burning of waste, environmental damage around Bandhwari, improper door to door collection etc. A RTI application had revealed that Municipal Corporation Faridabad had imposed a fine of ₹1.57 crore and the Municipal Corporation Gurugram had imposed penalties in 400 instances on the concessionaire following complaints received on social media and monitoring by the municipal corporation staffers. This data is till October 2020. On 7 Nov 2019, HSPCB imposed INR 25 lakh fine for open waste burning and NGT in September 2018 imposed INR 2.5 lakh fine for environmental damage caused around Bandhwari landfill. A report prepared by CPCB and NEERI in 2018 calculated the environmental damage due to mismanagement of Bandhwari landfill to be INR 148 crores.
On 19 June 2020, Manmohan Garg, the Deputy Mayor of Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) submitted a request to the civic body, seeking that the contract of Ecogreen be cancelled because of their inefficient handling of the city’s waste. The MCG House which includes Gurugram city’s Councillors and Mayor in November 2020 passed a resolution to scrap the contract of Ecogreen.
In spite of such terrible performance and regular flouting of rules by EcoGreen, instead of discontinuing their contract and blacklisting them, how can the Haryana government entrust Ecogreen with a complex project like operating a waste to energy plant, which should require top notch technical competency, highest level of operational efficiency, continuous monitoring, and ethical reporting, when Ecogreen is not even able to deliver upon the simple tasks of collection of 100% waste from the cities of Gurugram and Faridabad in last 4 years?
SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR DEALING WITH MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE OF GURUGRAM AND FARIDABAD CITIES
Toxic landfills and polluting waste to energy plants in our forests are not the solution to our waste problems. There are many cities in India like Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Ambikapur in Chattisgarh, Mysore in Karnataka, cities in Kerala that have adopted sustainable waste management models. Gurugram and Faridabad need to learn from these cities and adopt their best practices.
Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement demands the following from the government:
a) Withdraw the clearance given for a 15 MW capacity waste to energy plant at Bandhwari landfill site obtained by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram by furnishing false information in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. No further clearance for a 25 MW WTE capacity plant to be given.
b) Eliminate 35 lakh plus tons of legacy waste at Bandhwari landfill by implementing prove, tried and tested techniques like Bioremediation and do native planting to reclaim 30+ acres of Aravalli land.
c) Scrap the 22 year old contract with inefficient firm Eco Green. Integrate waste pickers and waste workers to replace Eco Green in Gurgaon and Faridabad.
d) Stop daily dumping of 2000 tons of unsegregated, mixed waste from Gurugram and Faridabad at Bandhwari landfill and 200+ locations around the 2 cities and take the following steps:
- Strictly enforce Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules 2016 based on source segregation of waste in both the cities. If the SWM 2016 Rules are followed in its letter and spirit, a WTE would not be required.
- Make it mandatory for all bulk waste generators in the 2 cities to set up composting and / or bio gas plants. This will take care of more than 50% of the food and horticulture waste of both the cities at source itself.
- Set up composting or bio-gas facilities at sector / ward / cluster level to process the biodegradable and horticulture waste generated by sector houses, individual shops and other individual non-bulk waste generators.
- Impose heavy fines and penalties on individuals and bulk waste generators not implementing Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.
- Set up material recovery centres for dry waste and electronic waste recycling in all the wards of Gurugram and Faridabad. This will sustainably take care of 20% of the cities’ recyclable waste.
- Send the non-recyclable, non-compostable waste of both the cities (about 15% of a city’s waste) for co-processing to an already functioning cement plant as this technology burns waste at very high temperatures so pollution is much less. Cement plants are already functioning, so there is no point in setting up capital intensive waste to energy plants. Municipalities just have to incur transportation cost to take the waste to the nearby cement plant.
- Make a sanitary landfill and biomedical facility away from eco-sensitive zones and human habitation areas to deal with 10% of the reject and sanitary waste of both the cities.
WHAT CAN CITIZENS DO TO HELP?
Sign and share this email asking India’s Environment Minister for revoking the permission given for building waste to energy plant in the NCR Aravallis.
We need 1000s of emails going to the Ministry of Environment. This will give us a greater chance of being heard by the government.
Follow the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Our handle is @AravalliBachao
#RemoveBandhwariLandfill #NoWTEinAravallis #EnforceSWMrules