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NGT Forms Committee to Probe Bandhwari Landfill, Leachate Pond

The site of a solid waste management plant, which has been closed since 2013 in Bandhwari in Gurugram, has become a mountain of more than 1.2 million tonnes of garbage.

Bandhwari Landfill

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a joint committee comprising officials of several government agencies to visit the Bandhwari landfill in Gurugram and inspect municipal solid waste dumped inside the forest area and a leachate pond near it, reports Hindustan Times.

The NGT has ordered the committee comprising officials of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), divisional forest department, and district magistrates from Gurugram and Faridabad, to visit the sites and submit an action report within four weeks. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 27.

“Having regard to the seriousness of the allegations, it appears necessary to ascertain the factual position in the matter through a joint committee of State PCB (HSPCB), divisional forest officers and district magistrates, Gurugram and Faridabad…The joint committee may meet within four weeks and undertake a site visit and look into the grievance of the applicant. Factual and action taken report may be furnished within three months,” said the NGT order.

The HSPCB has been appointed as the nodal agency for coordinating the exercise and ensuring compliance with the NGT directions.

“All the NGT directions will be duly adhered to,” said Kuldeep Singh, the regional officer of HSPCB.

The order came into action after Gurugram-based environmentalists Vaishali Rana and Vivek Kamboj filed a petition against the dumping of the waste inside the forest area and the formation of the leachate pond near the Bandhwari landfill. An NGT hearing was held on February 17, and the order was uploaded on its official website on Tuesday.

In its order, NGT also took cognizance of HSPCB inspecting the leachate treatment plant and water body formed inside the forest area near the Bandhwari landfill in August 2021. The HSPCB had also collected samples from the site. The HSPCB August 2021 sample reports of the pond showed that “biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), zinc, chloride, and fluoride were significantly higher in the water body than the permissible limits”.

“The analysis of the sample collected revealed that untreated leachate is being discharged in the forest area, which has formed a kind of leachate pond,” the NGT order read.

“The HSPCB’s leachate test report clearly states that BOD, COD, and ammoniacal nitrogen present in the samples are on the higher side. The report proves that highly toxic and untreated leachate is being discharged into the forest land. Due to this, the groundwater for the surrounding five villages — Bandhwari, Mandi, Mangar, Gwal Pahari and Baliawas — has been contaminated. Authorities need to take action in the matter immediately,” said petitioner Vaishali Rana.

What is Leachate Pond?

A leachate pond is a pond in which leachate (water containing dissolved contaminants) is collected and contained. Leachate ponds are often associated with municipal landfills.

Why Leachate is Harmful?

‘Leachate’ is the term for the liquid pollution that seeps through a landfill’s waste pile when it rains or snows. The leachate contains all sorts of harmful chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer. Leachate that escapes from a landfill can contaminate groundwater, surface waters and soil, potentially polluting the environment and harming human health.

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