In Photos: A Day in Delhi’s Overflowing Trashlands. Care Much MCD?

After the MCD elections, will the new municipal body bring any change in the garbage mess of Delhi?

5 min read
In Photos: A Day in Delhi’s Overflowing Trashlands. Care Much MCD?
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A quick Google search of dumping grounds in Delhi leads to numerous articles on one particular dumping ground – the mountain-like Ghazipur dumping yard.

The Ghazipur landfill in east Delhi is the oldest functional landfill in the city that was started in 1984. Spread across 70 acres, the landfill contains over 12 million tonnes of waste.

On reaching the Ghazipur village area, I saw the local mandi where there were temporary vegetable shops and food stalls with huge piles of garbage separating them.

Right outside the Ghazipur bus stop, the not-so-sweet smell of garbage welcomes people. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

From a distance, I could see a hill. I later realised that the hill was actually a huge pile of garbage and that was THE GHAZIPUR DUMPING YARD (more about it later).

With the MCD elections only a day away, the contesting parties have made promises of making Delhi ‘garbage free’. Before we question how they will be doing it, let’s see the current situation.

In Ghazipur, you can have paranthas and pakodas right next to a pile of garbage. Any guesses where the places go after people are done eating? (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

It is understood that most people living in the vicinity of the dumping yard make their living from the garbage. To those wondering how can one make a living out of something that has already been discarded, then get ready to be surprised.

People here collect the garbage, segregate the materials found in them and then sell them at different places. There is a huge market for old plastic waste and iron items that can be recycled and made into cheap products.

Clothes collected from garbage dumping yards in Sanjay Colony in Okhla phase II. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
The entrance to a bunch of houses. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

One such locality which thrives on garbage is Bhowapur village, which falls under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. There are small colonies in the area with about 15-20, poorly constructed, homes.

I met Abdullah there. Abdullah, 22, has been collecting garbage since 12 years now. His father has been in the profession all his life. I saw a couple of children swinging on a tree with a swing they had made with what they could get from the garbage. I wondered why were these children not in school. Abdullah had the answer to my question.

When you know garbage is all you have, you find a way to enjoy it. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
He said, “My younger brother went to school. He has completed his 10th standard and has been trying to find a job. But no one gives him a job because he is from a low caste.” That is the reason they have stopped sending the rest of the children to school.
The overflowing drains in Bhowapur area. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

I talked to a couple of pregnant women who refused to get clicked and they complained that the government doesn't do enough for them. All the jobs are given to the "Valmikis" , one said. There are too many mosquitoes and there is no respite from them even during the day, she added.

While this board stands mute, garbage piles up in front of it (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
It is a different kind of NH. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

Coming to the dumping yard, the huge area has three entrances. One of the entrances is open to the public and that is where the beef shops are. A stream flowing next to it had a distinct stench. One that reminded me of my visit to a slaughterhouse. Upon asking a local, I was told that the blood from the slaughterhouses flows into the stream along with other wastes.

This is the way people take to go to the meat shops. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
Garbage, blood from the slaughterhouse and other waste, everything goes into this. There are residential buildings nearby. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
Standing in attention atop a hill made of garbage. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

Going to one place was not enough. I wanted to check another place in Delhi and see the dumping situation there. Another place where waste disposal has been a problem is a place called Mandawali. A huge lake known as the Sanjay lake, which is managed by the DDA, lies somewhere in the middle of Mayur Vihar area.

The boundary of Sanjay lake. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The water level in the lake was less because of the heat, but when it rains, the water level rises and the barrier between the sewage stream and the lake gets submerged, thus releasing sewage into the lake. The lake has a park adjacent to it and hundreds of people come for walks and spending time there. The dumping and mosquitos definitely make their lives difficult.

The water had some fish and plenty of mosquitoes over it. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

With the MCD elections coming up, the first task of the new body should be to check the garbage disposal system. This could in turn result in creating employment opportunities for people living near the dumping yard.

While we wait for the government to take action, the least we can do is show restraint make sure we dump solid and liquid waste separately.


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