The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday slammed the Delhi government and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for their inaction on the recent fire that broke out at the Ghazipur landfill site. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar pulled up the civic body and the AAP government for shifting blame from one to another and putting the lives of residents at risk.
“You have again put the landfill site on fire. Why don’t you people think what you are doing. We are talking about the national capital. Why don’t you people do something,” the bench said. Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the EDMC, told the tribunal that immediate action was taken when fire was noticed on October 19 at 2 pm and fire tenders were called instantly.
However, the fire tending vehicles arrived at the landfill site at 2:30 pm and the second extinguisher reached only by 6:00 pm, the EDMC lawyer said. To this, the bench said, “Should we ask the Delhi government to send the fire tending vehicles? You people just keep on passing the hat from one to another.”
The blaze at Ghazipur landfill in east Delhi erupted on October 19 and 20 and was later extinguished after hours of fire-fighting operations by the fire tending vehicles. The tribunal also asked the EDMC whether it had started bio-stabilisation of municipal solid waste at the landfill site as per its direction.
Irked at the approach of the authorities, the green panel had earlier directed the EDMC to immediately start the work of “segregation, compaction and bio-remediation of the municipal solid waste” with the help of the Delhi government. “We direct deployment of JCB-like machines (mechanical excavators) and other mechanical process for the said purpose. It should be ensured that the waste, stated to be nearly 45 m in height, must be provided with proper vents to ensure that methane gas does not get accumulated and causes further disaster.
“They shall also cover the waste with soil. There shall be deployment of proper trained staff with complete equipment around the site, day and night, to ensure that there is no danger resulting from this huge dumped waste to the public at large and the environment, any further,” the bench had said. It had directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to open tender for deciding on the agency to carry out the segregation of waste at the Ghazipur landfill site, subject to receiving sanction from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
“Immediately thereafter they should award the work and ensure that the operation or segregation at the site would start without any further delay. Looking at the severity of the problem arising out of massive municipal solid waste, we do hope that the ministry would act expeditiously,” it said. On September 4, the NGT had come down heavily on the AAP government and the EDMC over the Ghazipur landfill collapse in which two persons were killed, saying “nothing can be more humiliating than people being killed under a garbage hill”.
A portion of the 45 m-high garbage dump in east Delhi’s Ghazipur collapsed on September 1 because of heavy rain, killing two people and pushing a car and three two wheelers off the road and into a canal.