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Behind fall in Swachh Survekshan ranking: Failure to manage waste

While the district had been pioneer in waste segregation in Tricity, it could not maintain it

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula |
Updated: December 1, 2021 6:04:54 am
With civic affairs in the district remaining in tatters for most of the year, the residents were mildly surprised to find that the Panchkula municipality, after much criticism, started road repairs to crater-sized potholes. (File photo)

WITH PANCHKULA’s Swachh Survekshan rankings taking a further dip, from rank 81 last year to rank 99 this year, residents have pointed out the primary reason for the slip: the waste management in the city. While Panchkula had been the pioneer of waste segregation in the Tricity, implementing the project in December 2019, it could not maintain it. Today, the city remains littered with garbage at several points.

There has been a huge uproar among the Congress councillors as well as trans-Ghaggar sector residents who face the heaviest brunt as all garbage travels to two dumping grounds in their area: Jhuriwala and Sector 23.

BJP came to power in Haryana as well as to the Panchkula MC with a promise to make Panchkula a smart city. Contrary to their poll promise, Panchkula MC as well as the state government are responsible for destroying the forest area in Morni Hills near Jhuriwala, putting lives of birds and animals in wildlife sanctuary adjoining Jhuriwala at risk, polluting underground water while making it unfit for human consumption. The rank is a huge slap on the face of MC officials who claim widespread developmental works which never move from paper to the city,” said B R Mehta, resident of Sector 25.

The poll promises made by the BJP MLA as well as mayor before coming to power — shifting and bio- remediation of Sector 23 dumping ground and solid waste management plant — hang in the balance. With no tenders floated for solid waste management and continued dumping of waste at both the Jhuriwala site as well as the Sector 23 dumping ground, solution to these issues is not visible in the near future.

The Congress councillors have blamed the mayor and the MLA for the dip in rank. “Panchkula has slipped down to rank 99 in the Swachh Survekshan and the reason for that seems clear enough — it is the lack of arrangements and resources by the BJP government. A lot has been promised in the past few years but no good has been done for the residents of the city by the BJP government when it comes to cleanliness. Dumping ground in Sector 23 and Jhuriwala which should be at least 10 km from residential area is the main reason behind the fall in rank,” said Akshaydeep Chaudhary, municipal councillor of ward no. 17.
‘Door-to-door collection of waste a scam’

While the residents have criticised the MC for keeping prevalent unorganised garbage collection in the city, the officials have stated that door-to-door collection and segregation of waste is done by MC- appointed sanitation workers.

Residents have also claimed that garbage trolleys are infrequent and waste is mostly collected by private sanitation workers, and not by employees hired by the MC.

MC’s Chief Sanitary Inspector Avinash Gupta, however, said, “We have as many as 680 garbage collectors on our payroll. Almost 20-30 work per sector depending on the population.” With waste segregation standing defeated at the source, the two landfills of Panchkula have continued to fill, making the city increasingly unsanitary.

Jhuriwala site stuck
The Jhuriwala site had been proposed to be developed with a solid waste management plant. The plant was first supposed to process the waste at the Sector 23 dumping ground while alongside processing the everyday city waste. The Sector 23 dumping ground was to be bio-mined and developed as a park. With the solid waste management plant nowhere in sight and the ever-filling mountain of garbage at Sector 23 along with an added garbage dump now at the Jhuriwala site, the MC has failed to find a solution.

In September, the forest divisions of Morni, Pinjore and Panchkula had written to the HSVP to hand over the land to them as the requisite terms and conditions were not followed. The Panchkula Pollution Control Board (PCB), in a letter issued in August, cited several irregularities in MC’s conversion of the of land into a dumping ground. “They do not have any permissions for the land. Their environmental clearance has expired, permission to establish has also expired. Moreover, the site is not being developed at all as a solid waste management ground, the way it was promised. The waste is being dumped in an unscientific way and they are even burning garbage at the spot, all of which is illegal,” Virendar Punia, regional officer for PCB, told The Indian Express.

As per the department, the MC is operating without valid environmental clearance which is issued from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and without the consent to establish (NOC), which has to be issued by the PCB. Noreply has yet been filed by the MC. The board has now decided to take legal action against the MC for failing to reply to the show-cause notice. This conversion of Jhuriwala land into a dumping ground by the MC has been opposed by the Forest Divisions as well.

The residents of the sector too have staged several protests and have even filed petitions at the High Court. It was in September that the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, responding on one such petition, had directed the Department of Urban Local Bodies, Haryana, to file an affidavit in this regard within a week’s time. The court had stated that the provisions of the Indian Forest Act as well as Wild Life Act are not being followed in the dumping of waste at the site and had also directed the ULB to follow and ensure due compliance “of the provisions of law and take action in respect of the violation thereof”. The matter is yet to be listed again.

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