The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will not be able to meet the deadline of June 30 set by the Bombay High Court to discontinue dumping of garbage in the Deonar and Mulund dumping grounds.
The solid waste management department of the BMC will instead seek an extension of up to three years to complete construction of its waste-to-energy project at Deonar before scientific treatment of garbage can be undertaken.
A month after a massive fire broke out at the Deonar dumping ground, the High Court took cognisance of the lack of compliance to Solid Waste Management Rules pertaining to scientific treatment and disposal of garbage. It had pulled up the BMC and ordered that dumping of garbage be discontinued at these two landfill sites. The HC ordered that the BMC initiate work on a scientific closure of both dumping grounds.
The tendering process for the setting up of the waste processing plant at Deonar, is however far from complete and will take at least another three months. “We held the pre-bid meeting on March 20 which was attended by around 15-20 companies. We have set the tentative deadline of receiving tenders as May 5. However, if we are unable to reach a consensus with the bidders and they have more suggestions, then the deadline can be extended. We will thus have to ask for an extension from the High Court,” said an SWM official. Officials of the SWM department said that it will take at least three years for the waste to energy plant to begin functioning and until then, the city’s garbage will be dumped at Deonar and Mulund.
In order to prevent another fire, in consultation with the IIT Bombay and NEERI, the civic body had finalised a list of measures as short term measures until the waste processing plant could be set up at Deonar. The measures included repairing the boundary wall, setting up CCTV cameras, constructing watch towers, and high masts among others. Citing lack of response in the tendering process, more than a year since the fire, the BMC is yet to complete the implementation of these measures.
For instance, a senior SWM official stated that even though 40 CCTV cameras have been purchased, most of them are yet to be installed. “We have set up about four of them as of now. Of the 11 watch towers, we have completed construction of eight of them and have installed 20-25 vents to allow the trapped methane gas to escape,” said the official adding that IIT Bombay is still finalising the model of the gas wells to be set up.
While the repair work of the main boundary wall has been completed, the BMC has to construct another 210 metre long wall on the creek-side of the Deonar dumping ground. “We are in the process of floating the tender worth Rs 5 crore for the wall and it is expected to take 18 months to complete the construction,” he said. The BMC has also purchased 11 fire tenders which will be stationed at the dumping grounds. Seven of them have been delivered of which five have been kept at Deonar, two at Mulund and they will be operated by SWM staff.