Published: Saturday 15 June 2002

The biggest garbage dump in Mumbai will be closed now, courtesy the Supreme Court. Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the resident welfare association of Chincholi Bunder area where the dumpyard is located, the court ordered its closure as it was posing a serious health hazard. The court also directed the state government to locate three more landfills. Appearing on behalf of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), attorney general Soli Sorabjee assured the court that the six-hectare landfill would be filled with earth and closed.

The dumpyard had turned into a stinking heap of waste, polluting soil and groundwater. The PIL had sought that the polluting landfill be closed before monsoon. Apart from Chincholi, there are three more landfills with BMC, which take a load of 6,000 metric tonnes waste every day. "Closing down of one landfill will not be a problem as we have three more. But we should try and understand that waste management means minimising the disposal of waste in landfills. We are already doing that by vermicomposting," says S Bhagwat, special officer on duty, BMC.

Experts consider landfills as a dirty option for waste disposal in India because they are not scientifically designed. "A creek or a low-lying area is selected as a dumpyard and all kinds of wastes are dumped there. Such dumping emits methane which often catches fire and is a hazard. People living near dumpyards are prone to cardiovascular diseases," says Kisan Mehta, president of Save Bombay Committee, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working in the field of waste management in Mumbai.

The court adjourned the case for hearing in June. By then, the state government has to be ready with three alternative landfill sites. However, feels Bhagwat, it will be difficult for the government to locate such sites as people living on the outskirts of Mumbai will not allow waste to be dumped in their neighbourhood.

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