The city’s 9,400 tonne of municipal solid waste, generated per day, can soon be diverted to the Kanjurmarg dumping site as the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has approved change in technology for processing waste at the Kanjurmarg plant, a proposal that was stuck for the past five years. Despite receiving land for dumping at Kanjurmarg in 2003, the project had not been able to take off because of litigation over environmental concerns.
Out of the total area of 141 hectare, the project site has about 23 hectare of mangrove forest in the eastern and south-western parts.
The 12 hectare of mangroves in the south-western area of the project site is relatively starved of tidal water, a concern that was raised by NGO Vanashakti, as a result of wall built by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) around the project site.
In March 2009, the civic body’s solid waste management (SWM) department had sought amendment in the environmental clearance granted for Kanjurmarg’s waste processing and disposal facility. The amended proposal wanted to process 3000 tonne of solid waste per day by bio-reactor landfill method and remaining 1,000 tonne per day by windrow composting, instead of carrying out windrow composting for the entire 4000 tonne.
“The SEIAA has approved the BMC’s proposal for change in technology for processing waste at Kanjurmarg dumping ground,” said Medha Gadgil, Additional Chief Secretary (Environment).
A State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) team, which recommends projects to the SEIAA, had visited the site in October and had sought a report by the state’s forest department’s mangrove cell.
According to the mangrove cell’s report, mangroves on the south-western side were degraded as tidal water reached the mangroves only during very high tides.
The cell suggested that more channels be constructed and the wall around the eastern patch of the mangroves be torn down to allow more tidal water.
The cell, however, noted that impact of the project on existing mangroves is likely to be minimal.
The SWM department also assured that a buffer zone of 500 metre around the dumping ground will be set aside as a no development zone and enzyme BIOWISH will be used to control odour.
Based on the report and assurances from the civic body that the bio-reactor cells will be situated outside the CRZ area, SEAC recommended the project to SEIAA, which approved it recently, subject to certain conditions.
The conditions included concretising the road leading to the dumping ground from the Eastern Express Highway to avoid generation of dust. The conditions further stipulate that leachate from the ground will not be allowed to contaminate the surrounding area, the compound wall should have sufficient openings to allow tidal water to mangroves.