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Friday, Oct 14, 2005
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Bindu Shajan Perappadan
NEW DELHI: Desperately short of waste dumping sites in the city, the Delhi Government is busy constructing a hazardous industrial waste disposal site adjacent to Ashok Vihar Phase-II, a densely populated residential complex.
The three-acre waste disposal site, being built at an estimated cost of Rs. 2 crores, will have a storage capacity of 15,000 metric tonnes of waste a year. The location, however, is in violation of the Hazardous Waste Management and Handling Rules as recommended by Supreme Court's Monitoring Committee.
Work on the site began a few months ago with the Government putting up boundary walls and building a disposal pit despite protests by residents. When ready for use the site would hold waste containing toxic metals including cadmium, lead, chromium, zinc and arsenic generated from various industries.
And while the residents are up in arms against the violation, they are also worried about the lack of support from the Government on the matter. Threatening legal action if the construction was not stopped immediately, the president of the Federation of Ashok Vihar Residents' Welfare Associations, H. C. Gupta, said: "The construction is illegal and violates all rules, regulations and guidelines framed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation (DSIDC). The complex has a population of 3.5 lakhs and we are worried about the ill effects of such a facility near a residential complex.''
According to environmentalists, a dumping site so close to a residential area creates serious health problems including toxicity, water contamination and various related problems.
Meanwhile, the land on which the dumping site is being constructed is said to be near a slum cluster and in some cases barely 100 metres away from the main residential areas. Also, most of the residents have installed tube-wells due to shortage of drinking water, pulling water from about 30-50 feet depth, which makes it extremely prone to contamination.
`Site was rejected'
The chairman of the Hazardous Waste and Dumping Committee of the Association, K.L. Sharma, said: "As per Master Plan 2001 and Zonal Development Plan of Zone-H3, Ashok Vihar area is `green' and within the periphery of urban limits. Dumping sites cannot be constructed here as it goes against the direction of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee. The Committee had rejected this site for the purpose on August 27, 2005. The construction is also in violation of the decision taken by the Chief Minister whereby a clear assurance was given to residents that the Department would find another suitable site for the purpose. We are now being told that this is only a temporary structure. This we believe is an eyewash.''
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