NGT: Will examine if alternate landfill sites fall on Yamuna floodplains

The National Green Tribunal today said it would examine. whether the proposed alternate landfill sites at Sonia Vihar and Ghonda Gujran areas here are located on the Yamuna floodplains.

A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim, which did not issue notice on the pleas filed by rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra and others, directed them to file a brief note within a week mentioning the grounds on which they were opposing the setting up of the two landfill sites.

“We will examine and consider if the two sites fall on the Yamuna floodplains. We will be considering all the issues,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, observed.

Besides Mishra, AAP spokesperson Dilip Kumar Pandey and others have also sought directions to restrain the DDA from allotting an area of 130 acres at Sonia Vihar and a 50-acre plot at Ghonda Gujran to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for handling and processing waste. The sites were proposed as the existing site at Ghazipur was saturated.

The order came after the green panel was informed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) that a similar matter was pending in the Supreme Court.

Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for EDMC, said Ghazipur landfill site has got saturated and there was an urgent need for an alternate landfill site to avoid any untoward incident.

The lawyer told the bench that land was identified after NGT’s indulgence when a chamber meeting was held where senior DDA officials had assured the tribunal about the availability of these sites.

He said the DDA had granted in principle approval for these sites based on the recommendations of Central Pollution Control Board and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for Mishra, alleged that the EDMC had concealed information that these sites were part of the active floodplain of Yamuna river and fell under the O-Zone as per Master Plan of Delhi, where no development can take place.

He said the two sites were rejected twice by the Principal Committee, formed to see execution of Yamuna cleaning, which had decided that these sites were unsuitable.

The NGT, however, questioned the petitioners and said the issue of landfill sites in the national capital was going on since long and why have they approached it at this juncture.

The matter was listed for next hearing on May 21.

While Mishra had alleged that EDMC has with a “malafide”intention not revealed that these sites are part of the active floodplain of Yamuna river and fell under the O-Zone as per Master Plan of Delhi where no development can take place, the petition filed by Pandey and others had said the project will adversely affect the eco-system of the area as there were several densely populated colonies and villages nearby.

“The entire area being low lying goes under deep waters during monsoon rains and the ground water table being very high, it suffers from aquifer flooding during high floods in river Yamuna. The ground conditions make its development as land fill site not only illegal but also susceptible to flooding risks.

“That with respect to the site in Ghonda Gujran, it can easily be surmised that it is in Zone O, as the site is said to be opposite the Usmanpur Village. And since the only open space opposite the Usmanpur Village is in the active river floodplain in Zone O, clearly the site is most unsuitable and impermissible as per the Siting Criteria under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 which is statutory in nature,” Mishra had said in his plea.

The plea, filed by Pandey and others, had said the “mindless setting up of a land-fill site adjacent to Yamuna, a natural water resource will be affecting the integrity of the flora and fauna of the water resource, which would affect overall ecology of the area which resulted the bad health condition of the people who are living nearby allotted land”.

It had said the approval given on the basis of recommendations of the Central Pollution Control Board and NEERI is based on wrong facts and it violated the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.

“Restrain the DDA from allotting the lands in question falling within the active floodplain of River Yamuna, i.e. 130 acres in Sonya Vihar and 50 acres in Ghonda Gujran for the purpose of developing Solid Waste Management facility.

“Impose heavy penalty and direct penal action against officials of EDMC for wilful and deliberate concealment of material facts before this tribunal,” the plea had said.

The DDA had earlier told the tribunal that based on the reports of the CPCB and NEERI and its analysis, an area of 88 acres at Sonia Vihar and a 42.5-acre plot at Ghonda Gujran can be given to the EDMC for handling and processing waste.

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