Despite repeated assurances by municipal officials that they were taking enough steps to tackle the toxic leachate from the Bandhwari landfill located in the foothills of the Aravallis, residents of nearby Bandhwari village, and environmentalists in Gurugram said a one kilometre long stream of toxic leachate from the dump yard was slowly making its way towards the village and is now almost at its boundaries.
Villagers on Monday said the foul smelling leachate has started polluting aquifers, leaving them with no clean source for drinking water. They said the leachate is profusely leaking from the Bandhwari garbage dump, owing to the mismanagement of the landfill by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and its concessionaire, Ecogreen.
Sanjay Harsana, a resident of Bandhwari village, said leachate started flowing from the landfill a few days ago and they complained about it immediately to the authorities. “We have made several complaints to the authorities but no action has been taken. The leachate has reached the village boundary and the entire groundwater and surface water sources are getting polluted. The land and forest area will also get affected. We were promised a waste to energy plant by the government, but all we got is more waste over the past five years,” he said.
Bandhwari village is one of the largest in the district with a population of around 15,000 and the lives of its people have been impacted adversely owing to the large-scale garbage dumping.
Vaishali Chandra Rana, a city based environmental activist, said a black stream of leachate has started flowing through the dry stormwater channels from the Bandhwari waste dump towards the village. “After meandering through the ravines of the Aravallis, the toxic fluid is now at the village boundaries. The leachate was tested earlier and found to be toxic. There is a need for action against those who failed to check the toxic water from flowing into the hills and aquifers,” she said.
Environmentalists also alleged that they have found wildlife and birds drinking the leachate. “The pollution control department must take action against such violations which are repetitive in nature,” said Rana
Ecogreen, the concessionaire of Bandhwari landfill, said the leachate was not from “their area”, and separate contractors have been employed by the MCG to manage the origin site. “The leachate is coming from the area, where garbage is being treated and managed by a separate set of contractors. It is their job to process the waste as well as the leachate,” said a senior official of Ecogreen, who asked not to be named.
The MCG, however, refuted this contention and said the leachate is flowing from the area controlled by Ecogreen. An MCG spokesperson said measures are being taken to resolve the issue, and trucks have been deployed to treat the leachate.
“In this matter, notices have been given to other agencies, including Ecogreen, and after a spot inspection, we have started removing the leachate using tankers. Concrete arrangements are being made to ensure that leachate does not leak in the future,” said Pradeep Kumar, joint commissioner (Swachh Bharat Mission), MCG, in a statement on Monday.
Kuldip Singh, regional officer, Haryana State Pollution Control Board, Gurugram, said they are already apprised of the matter, and their team visited the spot last Wednesday. “We have already taken samples of the leachate and are checking it. All stakeholders have been directed to resolve the issue at the earliest. Action will be taken against violators,” he said.