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Landfill in a wildlife sanctuary of Aravalli hills!

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, February 04, 2010 | 12:54 AM

Note: Notwithstanding the fact that there is a problem of seepage at Bhatti mines. Water is difficult to store there because it seeps into the ground through large fissures in the rock. Quarrying of red and started in the Bhatti hill area (southern ridge) in 1959. In the '60s, skilled labourers from Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab migrated to the area to work for private quarrying companies. As private operators repeatedly flouted safety norms, the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation took over the mines in 1975. Planned settlement of the mine workers took place in three colonies (Sanjay Colony, Indira Colony and Balbir Nagar) and they were recognized as permanent residents of the area. In May 1990, seven labourers died when a quarry caved in. The quarries were shut down as a result. In 1991, the area that included the quarry and the settlements was declared part of the Asola wildlife sanctuary.

The ridge was notified as a reserved forest (RF) under the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927, all encroachments on it in violation of the IFA provisions would be 'illegal' - irrespective of the government's permission. Records show that 796 hectares (ha) of northern and central ridge were demarcated as RF in 1913, while in 1980, by a notification under the IFA, 20 sites in northern, central and south-central ridge were demarcated as protected forests.

MCD's proposal to build a landfill at Bhatti Mines ignores that there is risk of contamination of water resources from leachate emissions. Also it lies in the vicinity of sensitive locations like Asola Wild Life sanctuary and two villages, Sanjay Nagr and Balbir Nagar.

MCD wants to dump waste at Bhatti

NEW DELHI: With the mountainous garbage dump at Ghazipur increasingly dwarfing the ultra-modern abattoir promising hygienic meat to Delhiites, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has rushed to the Supreme Court seeking urgent permission to dispose Delhi's daily garbage at the abandoned Bhatti mines in the Ridge area.

Citing a 10-year-old study conducted by the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) and the Delhi government on urban environment and infrastructure improvement, MCD counsel Praveen Swarup mentioned an application before a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and sought an urgent hearing on it.

The application said of the sanitary landfill sites at Ghazipur in East, Bhalsawa in North and Okhla in South, the one in East Delhi has already exceeded its intake capacity and needs to be closed as soon as possible.

Amicus curiae Sanjiv Sen, assisting the court in the PIL filed by Almitra H Patel on scientific and environmental friendly municipal waste disposal, told the court that MCD's proposal has to be evaluated from the environmental angle and said a detailed hearing would be necessary.

MCD said the Bhatti mines area, if reclaimed, could meet the requirement of disposal of municipal solid waste of Delhi for the next 25 years. "The proposed reclamation of parts of the disused quarry areas of Bhatti mines by sanitary landfilling would cost an estimated Rs 11 crore. In addition, as part of the development, a compost plant costing Rs 15 crore has also been recommended," it said quoting the study report of the year 2000.

The civic body said it along with the environment department of Delhi government had carried out an extensive survey of the Bhatti mines area to identify the pits available for disposal of municipal solid waste by landfilling.

Accordingly, a proposal was submitted before the Ridge Management Board (RMB) for allotment of this land for Engineered Sanitary Landfill site, it said. On RMB's recommendation, an environment impact assessment (EIA) study carried out by MCD to find out the suitability of Bhatti mines as an SLF site that fell close to the Asola Sanctuary.

The EIA study clearly indicates that Asola Sanctuary fell outside the demarcated SLF site at Bhatti mines and the RMB has in principle cleared the proposal, MCD said reminding the apex court that it had promised to close the Ghazipur landfill site in a phased manner after the commencement of operation of the modern abattoir.

It also promised that after the complete closure of the Bhatti mines SLF, it would be made into a forest cover as per the closure guidelines mentioned in the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2000.

Dhananjay Mahapatra,
31 January 2010
The Times of India
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