Video Producer: Varsha Rani
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Once upon a time, Qutub Minar, 73 metres in height, used to be the tallest building in Delhi-NCR but many commercial and residential towers have now come up in the region, dwarfing the iconic monument. Soon, a garbage mountain might also dwarf it – the Ghazipur landfill, a 65-metre high filth summit spread across an area of 70 acre.
But this isn't the only dumpsite in Delhi. While Ghazipur landfill is in east Delhi, Bhalswa landfill in northwest Delhi is also an extraordinary addition to Delhi's skyline.
We went to meet people living near the landfills to see the problems they face due to the big garbage dump.
"This water is contaminated. We don't get water from the pipelines here. And if we ever do, that's contaminated as well," says a woman living near the Ghazipur landfill.
"We've been here for 30 years now. When we first came here, all these places were like the ones we're living on, or they were ditches. This landfill is spread across the city. It gets very dangerous when a fire breaks out because of the gas (methane) present in these dumpsites. The waste starts to fall off from these huge landfills then. It catches fire on its own, and it takes around 10-15 days to extinguish the flames."Sunita, Resident, Ghazipur
The situation at Bhalswa landfill is no different. Residents are facing the same problems of air, water, and land pollution.
"I have gone through three respiratory surgeries and have other health conditions too. Most of the people living here have breathing issues and skin problems. I am also one of them. The water that we get here is contaminated and very bad for our health. If we ever drink or use that water, it causes stomach problems or other health issues. So we must get water from outside for ourselves."Sarfaraz, Resident, Bhalswa
Experts say that food waste is the majority contributor to the filth that has been created over the years.
"In India, about 50% to 60% of waste generated is food waste, which comes from the kitchen. Our food waste decomposes with time, and then there's rainfall, high exposure to sunlight. At the bottom of these dumpsites, there is a thick black liquid that is discharged from this waste. It is known as leachate and it is as poisonous as any other poison that we've heard of. This is a matter of concern because dumpsites not only pollute the air. They also pollute the water, groundwater, and soil."Atin Biswas, Waste Management Team head, Centre for Science and Environment
Residents living near the filth site say that the government hasn't done enough to make sure that their life is sustainable.
In December 2020, east Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir had claimed that the entire garbage dump at the Ghazipur landfill site would be processed by December 2024.
(Paramita Baishya is pursuing masters in Convergent Journalism and Yatharth is pursuing masters in Mass communication at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.)
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