India’s tallest garbage mountain in Ghazipur, New Delhi is on course to rise higher than the Taj Mahal in the next year, reports Hindustan Times.
The Ghazipur landfill site has already accumulated over 14 million metric tonnes of garbage, pushing it to the brink of another massive environmental disaster. The steep slopes covered with trash makes it dangerous for men and machinery.
The place is reportedly full of hawks, dogs, rats and stray animals who wander the area in search of food. The total garbage in the area can fill up to more than 40 football pitches. Ghazipur rises by nearly 10 metres a year with increasing pollution in the region.
According to East Delhi’s superintendent engineer Arun Kumar, the pile of garbage is already more than 65 metres (213 feet) high. If the dumping continues to grow at this rate, it will be taller than the iconic Taj in Agra by 2020, which is 73 metres high.
Reportedly, Ghazipur landfill facility was opened in 1984 and has already reached its capacity in 2002. However, it was not closed but was allowed to function with more trucks arriving each day with tonnes of garbage.
“About 2,000 tonnes of garbage is dumped at Ghazipur each day, ” said a Delhi municipal official on condition of anonymity.
In 2017, 50 tonnes of waste had come hurtling down like an avalanche over a group of people, killing two and injuring 5 others. Police and NDRF team had taken three hours to rescue the injured persons and recover the bodies. A ban on dumping waste was imposed but it could last only a few days because authorities could not find an alternative. Currently, there is no alternative site to dump rubbish, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation has continued to use the site for the last 16 years.
The Ghazipur landfills have become extremely hazardous as fires, sparked by methane gas coming from the dump, regularly break out and take days to extinguish. Shambhavi Shukla, a senior researcher at the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi, has stated to Hindustan Times that methane belching from the garbage can become even more deadly when mixed with atmosphere. Leachate, a black toxic liquid, is also leaking from the dump into a local canal.
“It all needs to be stopped as the continuous dumping has severely polluted the air and groundwater,” said Chitra Mukherjee, head of Chintan, an environmental advocacy group.
Residents say the dump often makes breathing virtually impossible. local residents have reported that people there fall sick all the time. Protests have not worked and people have also been leaving the area with their families.
A local plant that treats the waste also reportedly adds to the misery as it emits smoke.
Kumud Gupta, a local doctor said that more than 70 people, including babies, visit her each day who are mostly suffering from respiratory and stomach ailments caused by polluted air.
A government survey conducted between 2013 and 2017 stated that Delhi saw 981 deaths from acute respiratory infection while more than 1.7 million residents suffered from infections.
With India’s garbage issue becoming a bigger issue now, it will only cause more hazards in the future. Reportedly, Indian cities are among the world’s largest garbage producers, generating 62 million tonnes of waste annually. It could rise to 165 million tonnes by 2030, according to government figures.