ELL goes to Delhi: waste dumping scandal

This week the team behind Eastlondlines has been working with journalism students at Jamia Millia Ismalia University in Delhi to produce the Delhi Gazette, a website much like ELL and covering stories in the Indian capital. Many of these stories reflect the same issues and events that are found in London, so over the next few days we are showcasing a selection of reports which highlight different aspects of life in a city of 25 million people. Here is the fourth report: about illegal dumping and how the authorities fail to respond to citizen’s complaints. You can find the Delhi Gazette here.


Cows on waste dump, Delhi. pic Shadab Ahmad Moizee

Cows on waste dump, Delhi. pic Shadab Ahmad Moizee

Shadab Ahmad Moizee

Garbage has been dumped for the last two years at an non designated place near Al-Shifa Hospital and Milli Model School in Abul Fazal Enclave, South east Delhi. This garbage dumping point is unauthorised because Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has no alternative place to dump the domestic garbage of almost one lakh population. The domestic garbage gets spread across the road by moving vehicles, stray dogs and cattle as it is not picked up regularly by MCD.

Brigadier Zafar, Administrative Director, Al-Shifa Multispecialty Hospital says, “We have written to the MLA, ward counselor and authorities many times but still no action has been taken and the garbage keeps piling up.”

Zafar says that the chances of infection are much higher. Even the patients in the hospital have reduced as they fear getting infected. “There is a complete lack of centralized focus and monitoring in this issue,” Brigadier added.

“In this stinking, suffocating and stuffy environment, you have to hold your breath while passing Hari Kothi road,” says Sharfiya Saulehati, a resident of Shaheen Bagh. I do not want to go there but my daughter’s school is across the garbage dumping point.

Dr. Tanweer Farooqi, a resident of Abul Fazal Enclave says, “Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat Abhiyan got huge media coverage but the area of Okhla with almost one lakh population is mostly neglected in terms of development as well as media coverage.”

The people of Abul Fazal Enclave are struggling everyday as it is causing tremendous inconvenience and they are forced to live in the stinking and foul environment. Since this garbage spot is not in the city’s daily garbage collection list, it remains unattended for days.

Ishrat Begum, ward counselor, Okhla says, “Earlier garbage was dumped on the road side near Okhla bus stand, but people protested a lot. And garbage pickers do not have any choices so they changed their place and started throwing waste near Al-Shifa Hospital.” She also adds, “Abul Fazal Enclave has not a single piece of land to dump garbage. I wrote a letter to Delhi government to provide us a land for garbage dumping and help in maintaining the environment but they kept us waiting. Now, we have started collecting garbage systematically and throw it daily by truck to the main garbage depot.”

However, this claim falls flat when someone passes by the Hari Kothi road where garbage lays strewn around the road and heaps of domestic waste remain piled up near the Hospital. People of Okhla are also bitterly against the new garbage dumping space near the Hospital and residential quarter. People can be seen covering their faces to escape the putrefied smell.

“The area is turning into a feeding ground for cows, stray dogs and crows. It’s very difficult to live in such a poisonous environment but we are helpless,” says Muhammad Zeeshan, a resident of Abul Fazal Enclave.

MCD trash picker Masood Ansari complained that they do not have proper shoes, gloves and mask and that they use their hands to collect garbage from houses. “What can we do? We are instructed to dump the garbage to this site but people abuse us”, says Ansari.

A tea stall owner Ahmad said that he is suffering with huge losses as the customers complain about the stinking smell and his sales have also decreased due to the unhygienic surrounding around the stall. They have to bear with it, as they cannot re-establish themselves elsewhere as they are from the lower strata of the society.

The lack of proper disposal of waste is causing many problems and inconvenience to the passerby and especially to those living in that locality. The government may need to re-look or give its attention at why, in a technology intensive world,  garbage is handled by human hand in such a risky way and dumped near life saving places.

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