In what could spell trouble for municipal corporations across the state as far as the issue of solid waste management is concerned, the National Green Tribunal has asked Hanjer Biotech Energies Pvt Ltd (HBPEL) to compensate affected farmers living in six villages close to a land-fill site for pollution.
HBPEL was given the contract of managing solid waste of Rajkot Municipal Corporation way back in 2005 and was given a site to process the waste. However, the company’s plant failed to function properly, polluting the air and water of nearby villages. The company has the contract for managing solid waste in all the municipal corporations across the state.
“Ideally as per the contract, the company was to process 80% of the waste while 20% was to be put in the landfill site. But thanks to the poor set-up, it processes a mere 40% of the waste while the 60% is dumped at the landfill site,” said Shailendrasinh Jadeja, one of the petitioners.
Jadeja said that over the years, people of six nearby villages have been suffering due to the increasing mound of solid waste. “In winter our village would stink while in summer the wind would blow the garbage into our field. During monsoon, our water sources would get contaminated. We made several representations but to no avail. We then had to approach the NGT,” said Jadeja.
Mahesh Pandya of Paryavaran Mitra said that the tribunal has asked the collector to make a list of farmers who have been affected by the pollution. “Each affected farmer is to be given Rs20,000 by way of compensation. The company has been asked to deposit Rs25 lakh with the district collector,” said Pandya.
He said that what is alarming is that the same company has been given the contract for management of solid waste in all the municipal corporations of the state. “The Rajkot plant was the ‘ideal model’. If this is how the ideal model functions, we dread to think how the company must be managing waste in other cities,” said Pandya. The tribunal has also asked the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to submit a status report on the solid waste management facilities in the state.
Shantibhai Dhanadhra, sarpanch of Nakravada, one of the affected villages, said that their farms have gone barren due to garbage dumping and the resultant pollution. “We don’t even have access to the gauchar land now due to the dumping” he said.