10 Dec 2021
Black Day For Democracy
26 citizens in Gurgaon, the millennium city of India were picked up by the police on 10th Dec 2021, huddled into a bus and taken away to a far off police station. “Why are we being treated like Criminals! For what?? All we were doing was standing quietly with a sheet of paper registering a […]

26 citizens in Gurgaon, the millennium city of India were picked up by the police on 10th Dec 2021, huddled into a bus and taken away to a far off police station.

"Why are we being treated like Criminals! For what?? All we were doing was standing quietly with a sheet of paper registering a "No" to a venom-spewing waste burning plant in the Aravallis which are the only green lungs the highly polluted cities of India's National Capital Region. We just wanted to urge the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Khattar to not steal our children's future by laying the foundation stone for a waste burning plant in NCR's critical water recharge zone and shield against desertification. Truly a sad day for democracy", said Jyoti Raghavan, a mother of 2 teenaged girls.

Image Credits: Aravali Bachao Andolan

50 citizens of Gurgaon from different walks of life had gathered outside Vyapar Sadan in Sector 14 in Gurgaon where the Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Manohar Lal Khattar was to lay the foundation stone of the polluting waste burning plant at Bandhwari landfill in the eco sensitive Aravallis. The plant estimated at a cost of Rs 500 crores plus is set to be put up in 10 acres of land being cleared by the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon. "Ecogreen, the waste concessionaire entrusted with the responsibility of handling Gurgaon and Faridabad cities' waste has not been able to implement the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 since 2017. This firm has failed miserably. In 4 years, it has not managed to collect 100 percent segregated waste from the residents, nor organise segregated waste pick up nor been able to manage decentralised waste management. 2000 tons of mixed waste is dumped at Bandhwari landfill in the Aravallis everyday. The toxic leachate from the landfill has poisoned the under ground water. More than 60 people have died of cancer in Bandhwari village alone. Many more suffer from liver ailments and other health problems", said Roma J. Vinayak, a waste champion of the city.

Image Credits: Aravali

Waste to energy is a failed model in India. Out of 11 plants set up in india, most have closed down. 3 or 4 that are operating our polluting way beyond pollution norms and causing major health problems for citizens living around like is the case in okhla in Delhi. "The composition of Indian waste does not support this technology. 50 to 70 percent of our waste is wet food waste which is not suitable for burning. Also, our levels of segregation at source are very low. Most municipalities collect unsegregated, mixed waste. Calorific value of Indian waste is too less for it to burn efficiently to produce electricity. 20 percent of our waste is dry recyclable waste. We do not need such a high capital intensive technology to burn 10 percent of our non recyclable, non compostable waste. This can be sent to already existing cement plants," said Neelam Ahluwalia from the Aravalli Bachao citizens group.

The protesting citizens of Gurgaon have laid out specific demands to 1) CANCEL PLAN FOR POLLUTING WASTE TO ENERGY PLANT.

  1. Bring the SWM by laws in place for the city. By laws give a direction for both the citizens and the administration and can effective streamline waste handling in the city.
  2. IMPLEMENT DECENTRALISED SUSTAINABLE WASTE MANAGEMENT TO RECOVER RESOURCES FROM OUR WASTE which can be done at a fraction of the cost of the proposed waste to energy plant.
  3. IMPLEMENT WASTE REDUCTION PROGRAMS TO REDUCE WASTE GENERATION.
  4. INCLUDE WASTE ENTREPRENEURS & WASTE WORKERS IN MANAGING WASTE.
  5. CLEAR BANDHWARI LANDFILL THROUGH BIOREMEDIATION & RECLAIM THE ARAVALLI FOREST.

Joint statement from empanelled vendors for composting in Gurgaon is that decentralised waste management is preferred under SWM 2016 rules. In Gurgaon, more than 140 Bulk waste Generators are managing their kitchen waste without any dependence on Municipal infrastructure, proving it to be a successful model implemented by medium and small-scale waste entrepreneurs.

Photo Courtesy: Aravalli Bachao Andolan

Municipal corporation should leverage and support such enterprises to increase their reach, and also help them to explore opportunities in other streams of washte like dry waste etc., this will help in job creation and will also takes away the load from central Municipal waste management infrastructure.

Gauri Sarin, a resident says." It’s time Gurgaon takes responsibility of its own waste instead of handing over our waste to be burnt. Let all stakeholders get an opportunity to build an ecosystem that results in NO WASTE LANDFILL and WASTE 2 CLEAN ENERGY like Bio CNG and compost. Let Conscious Recyclers come forward to create products which don’t create more damage. This is need of the hour."

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