Three people were injured and over 10 jhuggis damaged after a portion of the Bhalswa landfill collapsed following heavy rain on Thursday. Director of the Press and Information of North MCD, which manages the landfill, said three ragpickers who were buried under the debris were rescued: “They were taken to the hospital, two have been discharged.”
The landfill, which is 53 metres high, receives 2,100 metric tonnes of waste every day from North and Outer Delhi areas. Despite reaching its capacity in 2006, it continues to be in use due to lack of alternate sites.
Residents of a small slum next to the landfill, who work as ragpickers, said a major accident was averted as the incident took place in the morning, giving them time to escape. Saibuddin (27) and his wife Sabina (20) ran out of their jhuggi with their two-month-old child — minutes before it was washed away by a mound of garbage. “We cannot even go inside the jhuggi as it is flooded with rainwater and debris,” said Saibuddin. Another resident Rabiya (35) said, “All our belongings, money and utensils… is now buried under the garbage.”
In July, the North MCD had said the height of the landfill was reduced by 12 metres — from 65 metres — in the last eight months by deploying trommel screening machines to treat the waste.
North body Mayor Jai Prakash said the portion that collapsed is 10 feet long and 15 feet wide: “Trommel machines have been deployed at the top of the landfill… and a route was created for them to pass through. This could have displaced some mounds of waste. Heavy rain on Thursday could have also caused the collapse. We have asked officials to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Leader of the opposition in North MCD, AAP’s Vikas Goel, said a bigger disaster is waiting to happen: “The MCD keeps claiming they have decreased the height. Then why are such incidents are happening?”
A senior official said, “Shortening the height is a temporary solution; the final solution lies in segregation of waste…”
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