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Deonar dumping ground fire: Central body to be brought in to fast-track closure

A plan to “scientifically” cap all the garbage in one portion of the 127-hectare wide dumpyard has been under consideration for several years now.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai |
Updated: February 3, 2016 3:22:04 am
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Express Photo by Vasant Prabhu, 010216, Mumbai.

After fighting a fire that swept through the biggest dumping facility in the city for nearly five days, the administration on Tuesday fast-tracked efforts to scientifically close a portion of the Deonar dumping ground. A proposal to involve the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) — a Government of India undertaking — for capping of solid waste at Deonar was taken up during a meeting convened by Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam.

A plan to “scientifically” cap all the garbage in one portion of the 127-hectare wide dumpyard has been under consideration for several years now. But following the public outcry, authorities have now drawn up plans to expedite the process.

According to senior officials who did not want be named, an official communication from the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) could come in handy. “The Union government last week issued letters to municipal corporations intimating that specialised works for capping or treating of solid waste could be allotted to NBCC under the Swachh Bharat mission,” a senior official said.

“The appointment of the government agency will help us save valuable time,” the official added. While a formal decision to appoint the agency will be taken by the Mumbai municipality, Kadam said that his department, which has a say in the process, has approved it in principle during the meeting.

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Meanwhile, a senior civic official said that the process of appointing a consultant for processing the capped waste through a “waste to energy” was also in advanced stages. “The tender was floated. We have a lowest bidder. The proposal will now go before the standing committee.”

Even as these medium terms solutions are put in place, the municipality has now set its eyes on controlling the discharge of polluting gases from the dump yard. A plan to set up vents (perforated pipes) in the mounds of garbage to trap methane has been taken up. Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who visited the facility on Monday along with National Environmental Engineering Research Institute’s chief scientist Rakesh Kumar, said that the design for the plan was being readied. The BMC has decided to build a network of roads, repair the broken compound wall, set in a dedicated fire fighting mechanism, and install CCTV at the Deonar site.

Interestingly while Kadam advocated shifting of solid waste management sites out of the city limits, authorities claimed that “processing” of the waste in situ was a “more workable” solution.

The Mumbai municipality has recently secured environmental clearance for augmenting its biomethanisation of waste facility at another dumping site in Kanjurmarg from 3000 metric tonne to 5,500 metric tonne. “The CRZ clearance is awaited. It will be the biggest-of-its kind in the country.” Plans to set up a processing plant at a newly acquired landfill site at Taloja is also being considered. On the civic body’s request, the government on Tuesday even asked the Thane Collector to acquire more land. Another facility being planned for treated construction waste is to come up at Airoli in Navi Mumbai.

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