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Waste disposal site in Sector 38 poses threat to surface, groundwater aquifers, says study

There is a necessity of routine monitoring of the groundwater quality and also a need to identify remedies.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
February 23, 2015 3:47:56 am

The city’s existing waste disposal site in Sector 38 poses a threat to surface and groundwater aquifers due to generation and percolation of leachate in the subsoil, according to a recent study.

“The disposal site is over 30-year-old and has no provision of leachate and gas collecting systems. Hence, it poses a threat to surface and groundwater aquifers,’’ says the study.

Therefore, there is a necessity of routine monitoring of the groundwater quality and also a need to identify remedies to minimise the adverse impact of the open dumping site, says the study, “System analysis of municipal solid waste management in Chandigarh and minimisation practices for cleaner emissions,” which was published recently in the online Journal of Cleaner Production.

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The study has been conducted by Dr Ravindra Khaiwal from the PGI’s School of Public Health, Kamalpreet Kaur from the Department of Environmental Studies at Panjab University and by Suman Mor at Chandigarh University, Mohali.

“Emission of landfill gases (LFGs) at the dump site can be clearly observed, causing foul smell and affecting the health of the workers. However, no scientific observations for the amount of greenhouse gases generated are made to examine the concentration of these LFGs,” says the study.

Considering the environmental implications of the dumping site, the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has initiated conversion of part of the dumping site into a sanitary landfill and its restoration. Out of 19.4 hectares, initially 3.2 hectares have been converted into a sanitary landfill on a trial basis.

“However, it was observed that the sanitary landfill is not functional and the waste is still dumped in the nearby unlined dumping site,” says the study.

The study has also highlighted other problems with the waste management system and says the “collection efficiency’’ of waste in the city is 70 to 80 per cent.

According to the study, Chandigarh generates about 350 TPD (tonne per day) of municipal solid waste (MSW). Its major composition is organic in nature that contributes around 45 to 55 per cent of the total, followed by 20 to 30 per cent combustibles.

The waste from every household is collected by waste collectors who then segregate it and then transport it to collection-cum-transfer stations or Sehaj Safai Kendras (SSKs). From there, the waste is then taken to the disposal site.

However, there are only 31 SSKs in contrast to 132 SSKs proposed by the municipal corporation.

The study has suggested segregation of waste at source which will lead to subsequent reduction of waste that reaches the disposal site. “Waste should be segregated at source, using colour-coded bins into different fractions such as compostable, combustible and other fractions,” it says.

It has suggested household or community-side composting, and creation of facility for collection of household hazardous waste, including e-waste, batteries and discarded medicines to aid their safe disposal.

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