Gurugram is set to have a new waste-to-energy plant, residents of the city that figures among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities, according to the World Air Quality Report, are against the government’s move.
Over 100 people including children who are part of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement protested, saying the waste-to-energy plant that is set to be constructed near Bandhwari landfill will only make pollution levels worse.
“The theme of our campaign is Green vs Black. The adults have come dressed in green attire to show that our generation has been blessed to enjoy the beauty of nature whereas the children are all wearing black to signify the dark future that they will be inheriting as a result of the upcoming waste-to-energy plant that is being gifted to their generation by the government,” said Neelam Ahluwalia, ,ember of Aravalli Bachao Citizens Group.
Children conducted street plays against the plant. Neelam Tarushi Agrawal, one of the participants, said, “Our future is black. There are barely any trees left and pollution levels have been increasing with each passing day. Our parents’ generation got to see greenery but we won’t.”
Aanya Jain, another student member of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Group, said, “We are living in the most polluted region in the world. The smog is so bad that most children and teenagers suffer from breathing difficulties and allergies of all kinds. Haryana has the lowest forest cover in India, just 3.6 per cent.”
The group also sang songs asking the Haryana Chief Minister to stop the government’s plan as it will pollute the Aravalli forest, which is the National Capital Region’s last remaining green lungs and critical water recharge zone, and the plant will generate “poisonous emissions and ash”.
Dhir Singh, a resident of Bandhwari village, said, “Ever since this landfill came here 10 years ago, it has completely poisoned our groundwater. 50-60 people have died of cancer in our village and many are still suffering from this disease and other health issues. A waste-to-energy plant will only make matters worse.”
Every day, around 2,000 tonnes of solid municipal waste including 1,200 tonnes from Gurugram and 800 tonnes from Faridabad are added to the Bandhwari landfill, which already has around 35 lakh tonnes of untreated waste.
Dr Sarika Verma, an ENT doctor from Gurugram, said, “Dioxins and Furans, generated by WTE plants are amongst the most toxic substances known to humans. Inhaling these can lead to respiratory disorders, cardio-vascular diseases and lung cancer.”
The Swachh Bharat Guide by the Ministry of Urban Development puts waste-to-energy (WTE) and landfilling at the bottom of the hierarchy and emphasises on reduction, recycling and composting. If the hierarchy is followed, only 10-20 per cent of a city’s non-recyclable and non-compostable waste should go to a WTE plant or landfill.