Trousers rolled up, a gamchha around his mouth and a stick in his hand, 51-year-old Rakesh stood atop a heap of garbage, next to the infamous mountain of trash at the Ghazipur landfill. Three days after L-G Anil Baijal called for an immediate end to dumping of waste at the landfill, work resumed as trucks drove in and out at regular intervals.
“We are left with no alternative since we didn’t get Rani Khera or Ghonda Gurjan. This is only for a month. Plus, after Eid, we had to dispose of animal carcasses, and we feared an epidemic. This is why we have decided to dump at Ghazipur for some more time,” said EDMC Mayor Neema Bhagat.
According to the East civic body, about 3,000 metric tonnes of waste reach Ghazipur landfill daily, of which 1,300 metric tonnes are used in the energy plant there. “We had a meeting with the LG today, and it’s been decided that 500 metric tonnes of waste will be sent to the Okhla energy plant and we are going to increase the capacity of the plant in Ghazipur from 1,300 metric tonnes to 2,000 metric tonnes,” Bhagat said.
On Tuesday, close to 240 trucks dumped garbage at the energy plant and the landfill from 7.30 am to 2 pm, according an EDMC official there. EDMC truck driver Satyavan, 43, drove up to the mound after three days, and said, “When we went to Rani Khera, people deflated the tyres of our trucks, damaged the vehicles and beat up some drivers… When I found out we can dump garbage at Ghazipur again, I went, picked up all the waste, and came here.”
At the entrance to the landfill sat bulldozer drivers R P Sharma and Raj Dulara, with flimsy surgical masks in their pockets. The smell doesn’t bother them anymore. “We all have breathing issues, skin problems… many colleagues have contracted tuberculosis because we are not given masks or boots or any kind of precautions. For a decade now, we have been telling senior officials to do something about this dumping ground… it’s a major health hazard. Maybe this incident will improve things for us,” said Dulara.
About the landfill permanently shutting down, Sharma said, “I will be transferred. I will still have my job but I will have to uproot my family.”
The decision to shut the landfill overnight has also raised some questions. “How does it make sense to collect garbage from east Delhi and dump it in north Delhi? All of Delhi will stink… most trucks drop a lot of garbage on the road because of potholes or because vehicles are not in a good condition,” said an official at the landfill.