Delhi's DDA Okays Dumping Site on Yamuna Floodplain

The Yamuna river-zone is an eco-sensitive zone according to the DDA's own documents.

New Delhi: The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has allocated a 42.5 acre plot to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to dump its mixed waste. The EDMC wants to develop the plot as an alternative dumping site to the oversaturated Ghazipur landfill, where a trash-slide killed two people in 2017.

The problem is that the plot of land allocated is located in the Yamuna floodplain.

“We have pictures to show that this area was filled with water in 2008, 2010 and 2013. So, it is not the case that this area was a flood plain in the distant past. It is an active flood plain,” said Manoj Mishra, convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.

Vimlendu Jha, an environmentalist in Delhi, said that the allotted area had been filled with water as recently as last year’s monsoons. “There is water in this area after and during every good monsoon. This order is a clear violation of the municipal solid waste management rules of 2016, which state that a landfill site shall be at least 100 metres away from a river,” Jha said.

However, the EDMC believes the environmental concerns are overstated. “We are relieved that after a long legal battle, we have finally got the site,” Pradeep Khandelwal, the EDMC chief engineer, told Hindustan Times.

“As opposed to the wrong impressions created against us, we are setting up an ‘Integrated Waste Management Facility’, which will include a waste-to-energy plant, a bio-methanation plant and a C&D debris-processing facility. No trash will be visible and there will be no stench,” he added.

Jha contended that the waste-management technology in question hasn’t been tested. “There [has been] no pilot. It hasn’t really worked. To add to the problem, we don’t even have well-functioning waste segregation which is essential for an integrated waste management facility to work.”

The DDA has for some time been keen on using the Ghonda-Gujran and Sonia Vihar areas as dumping sites. In 2018, it had approved the allotment of land in these two areas to be used as landfills. However, both these areas are contained in the Yamuna river-zone, which is an eco-sensitive zone according to the DDA’s own documents.

Activists – including Mishra – have filed petitions with the National Green Tribunal against the DDA’s decision. “According to the maili se nirmal Yamuna order of the NGT in 2015, any activity on flood plain has to [comply] with the expert committee report,” Mishra explained. “The expert committee report, in this case, recommended the development of water body for these sites.”

“So the DDA’s decision is in complete violation of the NGT order. They also need the approval of the NGT because the matter is still pending before it and the area has been located in the eco-sensitive zone,” he added.