Welcome to New Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill that was first opened back in 1984. It grows at an exceptional pace and will become higher than the Taj Mahal within a year or so. The Ghazipur landfill has been nicknamed ‘Mount Everest’ by the locals of New Delhi.
India’s Mount Everest is already over 65 meters tall and as the Supreme Court of India has already pointed out, is well overdue for installation of aircraft warning lights. This was not the intention when Ghazipur landfill became operation. The landfill reached its maximum capacity back in 2002 at the height of 20 meters. However, 21 million people living in New Delhi are still relying on this landfill along with two other landfills – all of which have reached their maximum capacities more than a decade ago.
According to a Delhi municipal official, ‘About 2,000 tonnes of garbage is dumped at Ghazipur each day.’ This converts to about 10 meters of trash every year. East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has attempted and failed to shut it down multiple times. Last year, a landslide claimed the lives of two locals after the mountain collapsed because of heavy rains. This stirred the community and even a landfill rehabilitation analysis was carried out by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to the authors of the report, ‘Waste disposal practices are not well controlled, which has led to the formation of steep and unstable slopes. Subsurface fires, smoke emissions from the surface of the waste, animals scavenging waste, and informal sector waste recyclers were all observed during the November 2017 site visit.’
The report’s conclusion was quite straightforward; the waste filling was to cease immediately, and the EDMC should close the Ghazipur landfill and switch to a new landfill ASAP. The closure only remained in place for a couple of days before the dump site began operations again. The locals are subjected to a variety of risks because of this. The landslide risk has been talked about, but the aerobic decomposition of the waste is creating heat and methane. This implies that given the right conditions, a fire can ignite quite easily.
The mountain has a tension crack in it that is about 60 meters in length and has a width of about half a meter; thus, the risk of potential slope failures is high. The landfill doesn’t have any linear system and the leachate produced in the dump is oozing into the local canal. Chitra Mukherjee, the head of Chintan – an environmental advocacy group – said, ‘It all needs to be stopped as the continuous dumping has severely polluted the air and groundwater.’
According to a local doctor, she treats about 70 patients every day who come in because of respiratory and stomach sickness thanks to the polluted air. Delhi has seen around 981 deaths because of accurate respiratory infection during 2013 and 2017. Aam Aadmi Party, the ruling party of Delhi, has already responded to a petition of cleaning up the Mount Everest that has become a ticking bomb within 24 months.