We should do composting. We should recycle the waste. We should segregate the waste in to bio-degradable and non-biodegradable right at the source. These are all evolutionary practices. People will take a very long time to implement these practices religiously and all over. Therefore, some measures have to be taken immediately for solid waste management.
Dumping grounds have a negative impact on the overall environment. All open ground dumps of solid waste release toxic materials in air and underground water, to a bit less or more extent. This in turn gives rise to health and safety concerns. Due to such dumping, the location becomes a breeding ground of mosquitoes, harbouring diseases, inviting animals, unpleasant and unbearable odours etc. It also affects the quality of the soil and water and poses a great risk to public health. Furthermore, the severity of such consequences gets multiplied many times when the open dumps are created by the Nagar Nigams.
Delhi and Mumbai have burnt their hands by creating dumping grounds which have now become dumping Hills ranging in height up to 40 M and above. This situation is prevailing in the entire National Capital Region. Because of pressure, temperature and the presence of biodegradable material in the waste, the waste dumps produce METHANE which is inflammable. Hence frequent fire in the waste dumps are becoming unmanageable. And to add insult to the injury, the open dumps attract the rag pickers which over a period of time become rag pickers colony and then every one in this colony suffers from some or the other ailment owing to toxic atmosphere and brazen pollution.
The alternative is Sanitary Land Fills– big ditches in series in the useless barren LMC grounds of Urban Civic Bodies ; fill these ditches with waste, cover them with mud on the top , compact them slightly and repeat the exercise every day. This is done for elimination of unpleasant odour and also for expediting the process of rioting i.e decomposition of waste. Once the land fill site is saturated, plant grass and shrubs thereafter. The sanitary land fill site becomes a green patch. Not a single inch of ground is wasted this way.
The minus point with Sanitary Land Fills is the probability of seepage going down to the under ground water table and contaminating the water with heavy metals like Chromium, Zinc and Arsenic. Since the level of Under Ground Water Table has already gone down to about 300 ft below the ground because of unrestricted extraction of water, such a situation is almost unlikely particularly in National Capital Region and ,in general, every where in the Country. In any case, this eventuality exist even for Dumping Grounds. There is another disadvantage of Sanitray Land Fills in terms of explosion of methane gas from within. Precautions have to be taken for it either by removing the methane gas by design or by keeping the land fill site unhabitated.
In a Sanitary Land Fill site, we require a roller for consolidating the daily waste and then covering it up either by soil extracted from the adjacent ditch or by some polythene sheet. We require two to three trained tradesman at site for this purpose. The width of the ditch can be about 13 ft. Length and depth of the ditch will be according to the quantity of the solid waste
In essence, daily solid waste need to be slightly consolidated and covered up with soil or polythene. There will be no foul smell or unruly site. Sanitary Land Fills are being created for solid waste management in foreign countries since last more than 50 years and at a few places even in India.
Although land fills have their own draw backs ,and new alternatives are being searched for, but they are certainly better than the ground dumps or dumping hills of solid waste. Indore has already resorted to Trenching Grounds (Sanitary Land Fills)
(The writer Colonel Tejandra Pal Tyagi (retd) is President, Flat Owners Federation Ghaziabad and Chief Convener, CONRWA OR Confederation of NCR Resident Welfare Associations)