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Trash Crisis

The National Green Tribunal(NGT) issued show cause notices to the Delhi government and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) over the Ghazipur landfill collapse that killed two people.

At present, Delhi generates more than 10,000 tonnes of garbage every day, most of which is dumped in landfills and pose serious threat to environment and public safety.

The Ghazipur landfill was more than 50 metres high, almost as high as a 15-storey building.

Issues involved:

  • The dump yard at Ghazipur should have been shut down years ago, or at least immediately after the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 came into force
  • Solid Waste Management rules stipulate that a landfill should not be more than 25 years old
  • The other two landfills at Okhla and Narela-Bhawana in Delhi, are also past their saturation point
  • The problem is not restricted to Delhi as dump sites in most Indian cities are handling much more waste than they can hold
  • Environment minister has remarked last year that the country generates more than 60 million tonnes of garbage every year, more than double the amount generated at the beginning of the century
  • Most urban agencies are overstretched when it comes to dealing with such large amounts of waste. Landfills in Mumbai for example, are stretched beyond their limits
  • Large parts of Mumbai were engulfed in smog last year, after the 55-metre high Deonar dump caught fire


  • Adopting a one-size-fits-all solution for the waste problems of urban India
  • Garbage management becomes extremely difficult when recyclables, organic wastes and toxic wastes are all dumped together

Way forward:

  • Segregation of waste at source is the key to effective waste management and some Indian cities are working out mechanisms for such decentralised systems
  • The Mysuru City Corporation has devised mechanisms for segregation of trash at source, door-to-door collection and extensive recycling. It has also focused on public awareness campaigns
  • Delhi, Mumbai and other Indian cities, can learn from these cities in getting their basics right

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