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Why Bhatti Mines is not suitable as a landfill site

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, November 16, 2015 | 12:40 AM

Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)'s study report of the year 2000 proposed that Bhatti mines area be used for construction of landfill. It argued that it could meet the requirement of disposal of municipal solid waste of Delhi for the next 25 years. The study reads: "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". An application was filed in the Supreme Court based on this study. 

By an order dated February 15, 2000, Supreme Court had directed the Union Urban Development Ministry, Delhi Government and DDA to identify landfill sites.

In July 2010, MCD was represented by Additional Solicitor General of India in the Supreme Court in order to seek permission to dispose daily garbage at the abandoned Bhati mines in the Ridge area, for which it had moved the Court in 2000. The Supreme Court had transferred the matter to the Delhi High Court along with it another application that opposed use of Bhatti mines as a landfill site.

In September 2010 MCD approached the Delhi High Court, seeking possession of Bhatti mines area as an alternative site for landfill. By an order in 1996, High Court had prohibited the usage of Bhatti mines area for landfill. MCD wanted modification this order. MCD has sought direction to the Delhi government and related authorities for permission to use 447 acres of land in Bhatti mines area. 

A proposal to use part of the Bhatti mines as a landfill site was refused once in 2011 by the Delhi forest department and the environment ministry. 


In May 2013, Delhi High Court constituted a high power committee to address the issue of inadequate dumping ground in the Capital. The panel includes vice-chairman of DDA, Commissioners of all Municipal Corporations of Delhi, and Representatives from the Land, Building Department of Delhi Government and the Environment Ministry. The committee is chaired by the Secretary of Urban Development department of the Delhi Government. In its affidavit DDA had identified 11 new sites for garbage disposal in the Capital. Out of the 600 acres identified, 500 acres of land is near Bhatti mines, which fall near Asola-Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Taking cognizance of the proposed landfill sites, Justice GS Sistani said, "The land identified by DDA is disputed. You cannot acquire the land and then check the feasibility. Such pieces of land will take years to get environmental clearances. DDA may provide small chunks of land, but they should be dispute-free." In May 2013, North and South corporations of Delhi had announced five tentative sanitary landfill sites that includes the proposal to turn Bhatti mines area into landfill. 

Municipal authority has to take clearances from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Ridge Management Board, Environment department and Central Empowered Committee. Notably, the proposal to build a landfill at Bhatti mines does not factor in the 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.

In order to meet the projected waste generation of 17,000 to 25,000 tonnes of waste per day in 2021 – this is part of the plan to transform the 1,000-hectare Bhatti mines area into a landfill. The municipal officials will have us believe that the area is just a wildlife sanctuary so constructing a landfill can be carried out in it. It is noteworthy that the area is also a part of the Ridge in Delhi, which is a culmination of the Aravali mountain range which, besides being ecologically fragile, constitutes a major water catchment area for Delhi. 

Notably, out of the total waste produced in Delhi, close to 40 per cent is organic and can be converted to compost that could be used in agriculture; 15 per cent of the waste is recyclable material; and the remaining 25 per cent is construction waste, like debris and sand that can be reused. It is only a small percentage of waste materials that are either difficult to recycle or are non-recyclable such as tetrapacks, thermocol, wafer  bags, etc that poses a problem. 

The proposal to create landfill in the Bhatti mines area is quite myopic because the area is a ground water recharge system for Delhi. This is an ecologically sensitive area and falls within Asola wildlife sanctuary. Instead of turning this area into landfill for waste, it should be conserved for ground water recharge.   
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