- The Bandhwari landfill located near the Delhi and Haryana border, which gets tonnes of unsegregated waste every day, is now about 40 metres tall.
- Residents of Bandhwari and environmental activists have protested the landfill which has led to serious health issues. Groundwater contamination, foul stench, and cattle health are ever-increasing concerns.
- However, the landfill also provides employment to members of local communities making them economically dependent on the polluting site.
- In this video, experts point out the non-compliance of rules at the landfill site and highlight the socio-economic disadvantages that arise due to improper waste management.
The landfill, often called Bandhwari, located in the ecologically sensitive Aravallis, is named after the village, whose land it came up on. This growing mountain of trash gets 2,000 tonnes of unsegregated waste daily from Gurugram and Faridabad. It has grown over 40 metres tall today and shows no signs of halting.
Since the waste is not segregated properly, and the compostable, non-compostable, hazardous and electronic wastes are dumped together, it has led to pools of leachate forming around the landfill, contaminating the soil and groundwater. Vaishali Rana, an activist and a resident of Gurugram, who has been opposing the landfill for years, says that testing conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 14 spots on groundwater in and around the landfill proved that the water is contaminated. The report by CPCB reads that the groundwater in Bandhwari is ‘not fit for drinking purpose’.
Explaining how the Bandhwari landfill is different from the three other landfills in the Delhi and Delhi NCR areas, Rana says, “This is a forest area; this is the Aravallis which has blanket protection from the Supreme Court of India. So, this is how it is so different from the other landfills. There’s another thing to it – the landfill is on a higher elevation and the rest of the villages are a little lower.”
Dharmveer Harsana, a resident of Bandhwari, states that none of the residents consented to allow the landfill in the area. “When the municipal corporation asked the then Sarpanch of the village in 2004, he consented to allow the landfill in that area without discussing with the residents of Bandhwari,” he says. The people are protesting the existence of the landfill as their health is directly impacted. Many who are dependent on their cattle for survival, are also worried about the health of their cattle that consume the toxic water. “It isn’t that only Bandhwari is affected. Mangar, Baliyawas, Dera, Fatehpur – all of these villages are suffering too,” says Ajit Singh Dayma, another resident of Bandhwari.
However, not all people directly oppose the landfill. The landfill also provides employment to some people in the village, due to which they are hesitant to speak against it. “At the end of the day, most of the environmental problems are also economic problems. And that we need to understand very clearly. So, this landfill site has two sides. One part of the community is benefiting out of it, in terms of jobs and employments and contracts. And the other side, is not economically benefiting, but are also suffering. The first party is also suffering, but there is something that they are getting in return. This always happens in the most polluted sites,” explains Chandra Bhushan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of iFOREST, a New Delhi-based think tank.
In an effort to reduce the towering waste, municipal authorities have proposed to burn the waste to produce electricity with a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, which has also received opposition from environmental activists, citing pollution from the plant, as one of the main reasons. The plans to treat the existing waste at the proposed energy plant in Bandhwari are yet to be implemented fully. In the meantime, the waste mountain rises higher.
The next video in the series discusses the proposed WTE plant in detail and explores an everyday front yard solution – waste segregation. Watch it here:
Banner image: The Bandhwari landfill near the Delhi-Haryana border visible from an adjacent village. Photo by Shaz Syed/Mongabay.