EVEN AS the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation intensifies its efforts for better solid waste management, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has instructed the civic body to shut down its garbage collection and transfer station in Gorai at the earliest. The directions were communicated through a notice issued earlier this month. However, after the BMC failed to comply with the notice, MPCB officials have now filed a police complaint against it.
The notice issued to the solid waste management department on June 2 said Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam had issued directions to shut down the Gorai garbage transfer station and move it to an alternate location. After Kadam ordered the MPCB to take action against the BMC, board officials conducted a visit of the site on May 31 after which the regional officer sent a notice to the BMC.
“We have asked the BMC to follow the directions and submit a report on the same so that we can inform the minister accordingly,” said an MPCB official, confirming that they registered a police complaint with the Borivali police station after receiving no response from the BMC. \ When contacted, Kadam said he had received several complaints from local residents, which prompted him to act on the issue. “Many residents came to complain about the garbage station, which is right next to their complex. The BMC has been operating the transfer station illegally without environmental clearance even after the Gorai dumping ground was shut down,” he said.
Civic officials said they had sought more time from the MPCB after receiving the notice. “We cannot shut down our operations in a day’s time. The Gorai station receives 350 metric tonnes of garbage every day. How can we suddenly shift the station elsewhere? We have requested the MPCB to give us time at least till October so that we can figure out alternate arrangements,” said an official from the SWM department.
Admitting to delay, he said BMC had written to the MPCB only by June 4. “The residents who complained live in a building adjacent to the refuse transfer station and share a common wall, which has been damaged and we were supposed to repair it,” said the official.
There are four such sites where the city’s garbage is collected before it is transported to the three dumping grounds in the city. Apart from the stations at Gorai, Versova and Kurla, the station at Mahalaxmi was modernised more than a decade ago and the garbage is compacted before it is piled onto a truck to leave out the leachate, a toxic output of wet waste.
The official added that the civic body was now planning to modernise the other three refuse stations as well but have been unable to do it since all three fall under Coastal Regulation Zone. “We are not allowed to construct anything on any of the sites due to which we have not been able to carry out garbage compaction there. We had written to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority last year asking them to relax the norms but have not received any response. We are now planning to send them a reminder on the same,” said another senior official from the SWM department.