For residents of Dadumajra, the idea that they live in ‘City Beautiful’ is a joke. For, close to them is the city’s main garbage dump, which creates a pervasive stench and is also responsible for several health problems and poor sanitation conditions.
The garbage site is fast piling up, but the Chandigarh Administration has not woken up to the problem.
“Be it summer or winter, night or day, this place always swarms with mosquitoes and flies. And then there is the constant stench, which is particularly bad when the wind blows or during the rain,” says Satish Goyal, a resident.
Ravi, a taekwondo player, says that when he goes for jogging in the morning, he often feels “nauseated” not only due to the stench but also due to the gases coming from the garbage processing plant.
Vidya, another resident, says, “We’ve been living here since 1980. My husband got asthma only due to this dumping site, so did many other people. We cannot even go out for a stroll in the morning or evening. There have been several protests against this menace, but to no avail.”
The dump is spread over about 45 acres, of which an area of 20 acres is currently being used for disposal of both treated and untreated waste.
Narinder Chaudhary, president of Dalit Raksha Dal, says the administration is not bothered because “government officers or the affluent do not live here, it is mostly Dalits’’.
“Years ago, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the construction of a boundary wall to prevent spillage of garbage outside. But now the garbage has piled up three-storey high,” adds Choudhary, who recently wrote to the Prime Minister and the UT Administrator regarding the situation.
Asserting that most households in Dadumajra have at least one member suffering from a respiratory or other disease, Choudhary says that the UT Health Department should carry out a survey to ascertain the ill-effects of the dumping site.
“People from other parts of the city are not willing to marry off their daughters in this village because of this problem,” he says.
But there seems to be no end in sight for their ordeal.
Joint Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Gupta says, “There will be mosquitoes and flies wherever there is a garbage disposal site. We’ve not received any specific complaints, but we’re aware that nobody wants a garbage site in their neighbourhood. We’re constantly spraying the site with micro-nutrients and also landscaping the area. The process is monitored. We also constructed a massive wall after the residents demanded it.”