Waste trashes green norms
|Garbage dumped in the open at Ramchak Bairiya village on the outskirts of Patna. Picture by Ashok Sinha|
Pollution control and environment protection norms seem to be the last thing on the mind of the civic authorities.
Garbage up to 1,200 metric tonnes is being dumped every day at Ramachak Bairiya village, a landfill site located about 35km from the state capital, by the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) without any clearance from the state environment and forests department.
Distressed with the numerous problems triggered by the tonnes of waste that are being dumped in Ramachak Bairiya for over a year now, residents from neighbouring areas have knocked on the doors of the judiciary and the state human rights commission.
“The mounds of garbage emanate stench and are a cause of frequent fires. Besides, the dumping yard has turned out to be a breeding ground of flies and mosquitoes. Children and the elderly often fall ill and most of them suffer from respiratory disorders. After waiting for a few months for the authorities to take action, we finally lodged a complaint with the Bihar State Human Rights Commission (BSHRC) in October and moved Patna High Court in November last year. While the BSHRC had sought an explanation from PMC within 15 days, the case in the court is still pending,” said Pushpa Kumari, the head of Bairiya Kranpura gram panchayat.
The landfill site is spread over 85 acres and surrounded by four villages that have a total population of about 20,000. “We are living in an inhuman condition. One cannot breathe properly as the entire area always stinks. The situation has worsened since it started to get got in the past few days. Besides, the garbage catches fire by itself, adding more to the rising temperature,” Pushpa said.
According to sources, garbage is being dumped in the site since December 2010.
Time and again, Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has condemned the authorities concerned for such mindless dumping of garbage in the area. “We have not received any response from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) regarding the environmental clearance for the garbage disposal and waste processing facility at Ramachak Bairiya landfill site. Dumping of garbage or construction of waste processing facility is not allowed at the proposed site until a report from CPCB arrives. We would soon send a reminder to the civic body to stop such activities at Ramachak- Bairiya,” said Manoj Kumar Sinha, the member-secretary of BSPCB.
According to the norms laid down by Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, the municipality, or the agency appointed by it, is required to get an environment clearance to set up and operate a waste processing and disposal facility at the landfill site.
The BSPCB held a public hearing on March 6, 2011 at Ramachak Bairiya village in presence of all stakeholders, including villagers. The board then sent a report to CPCB and the ministry of environment and forests, seeking their corresponding reports. Sources in the BSPCB said it has received several complaints from nearby villagers about garbage heaps catching fire and causing health hazards.
The civic body, on the other hand, does not seem to be giving any attention to either the villagers’ misery or the absence of a clearance from CPCB. “The PMC is not aware about any such clearance to be given by CPCB. Besides, Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo), as the technical adviser to the civic body, would soon float tenders to select firms that would construct a solid waste management complex at the landfill site,” said Chandrama Singh, the additional municipal commissioner.
Environmental experts are also concerned over the long-term impact of such unscientific dumping of garbage on nature. They say such a practice pollutes air and contaminates ground water in and around the state capital. “Open dumping of garbage in a city is strictly prohibited by Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000. Besides, outbreak of fire is frequent because of formation of methane gas formation. Methane gas ignites fire when exposed to high temperature. And this is common in open landfill sites during summer. Moreover, such dumping of garbage would lead to an alarming rise in the number of flies and mosquitoes in areas adjoining Ramachak Bairiya. Apart from the immediate effects, the dumping of garbage would lead to environmental degradation of the city as a long-term effect,” said Dr Ashok Ghosh, the head of the environment and water management department, AN College.
Residents are also concerned over the dumping of garbage in a plot adjacent to the historic Veer Kunwar Singh Park on Hardinge Park Road. “This is going on for six months. I have been visiting the park for many years for morning walk. But I have observed that in the past few months, the plot emanates a strong stench and one feels suffocated in the park. That the neighbouring plot has been turned into a garbage plot is a height of ignorance on part of the civic authorities,” said Amrendra Kumar, a resident. Sources said the dumping site has come up on a desolated government land spread across 7-8 acres. The plot was earlier used as a private bus stand.