Itís a surprisingly breezy summer evening. You decide that the weather is too good to be locked in your room, you open the door and step out only to be bombarded by an extremely foul smell. The smell that mostly emanates in the evenings or late at night is a problem for all of us at BPHC. We have often wondered what the cause of the stench is. After digging around we have found out that the root of our problem is located about 3 km away from our campus, the Jawahar Nagar Dump Yard. Spread over an area of 350 acres, the waste from the entirety of the twin cities is dumped here.
Established in 2001 by the then Telugu Desam Party government, an area of 330 acres was allotted as the dump site for three municipalities: Alwal, Uppal, and Kapra. This arrangement was to be over a period of 4 years. However, in 2004 the next Congress party government took to the expansion of the dumpsite and soon the waste from all municipalities under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation(GHMC) was transported to be dumped here. The refuse of about 60 lakh people resulting in 4000 metric tonnes of garbage is dumped here everyday.
In the year 2007, the Congress government entered into a 20 year long agreement with a company called Ramky. The agreement states that Ramky will be responsible for proper disposal of the waste, this means that they have to segregate and recycle the waste and sell the recycled materials back to the government at a subsidised cost. They also have to provide the residents with hospitals, clean water, electricity and other such basic amenities. In return, the government will pay Ramky Rs 1431/- for every metric tonne of waste they process. This gives Ramky approximately Rs 60,00,000 per day. However, the duties on the part of Ramky are not fulfilled. Instead of proper treatment of the waste, it is being burnt in an unruly manner. Burning the garbage causes significant harm to the environment and the smoke and smell produced is are major causes for concern.
The smell is just a nuisance to us but to approximately 1,50,000 people living around the area it is a serious health hazard. There are 35 villages surrounding the dump site. Every time there is a breeze the smell comes with it to torment them, rains and winds only make it worse. Living in such proximity to a mountain of trash has resulted in a wide array of diseases to the residents. Skin diseases, asthma, cough, and joint pains are among the common ones. The problem of mosquitoes is a significant one as well. The expanse of the garbage has also generated an enormous amount of leachate contaminating 14 lakes in Jawahar Nagar. Ground water bore wells rarely bring out the water and when they do it is black in colour and contaminated. The Geological Survey of India has deemed the groundwater to be unusable for the next 8 years. As a result of the degradation of water even the crops and animals are dying in the area.
Jawahar Nagar used to have fertile lands but because of the soil and water degradation the lands are left barren. Consequently, many farmers in the area have found themselves without a means of survival. The situation of the stonecutters is similar. A large community of stonecutters depended on the rocks and boulders of the Jawahar Nagar hill to earn their bread and butter but now the hill of rocks has been transformed into a giant heap of trash. To make matters worse the Rajiv Gruha Kalpa project, where houses are allotted to the poor and middle class by the government at low rates is just next to the yard. The people who haven't already vacated, live in these testing circumstances as they cannot afford a house elsewhere.
Improper treatment of the waste is the central reason for all the problems arising out of the dump. Processing centres around the city can be set up, to ensure that all waste is processed and recycled efficiently. Metal and plastic can be reused and biodegradable waste can be composted and turned into manure. Having localised small scale dumping yards instead of a single big one is a possible solution too.
The battle against the stench is one that has been waged for the past 16 years. This is an issue which received a lot of attention from our college authorities ever since its inception. Our ex-director Prof. V.S. Rao himself pursued the matter by writing numerous letters to the concerned officials. However, through the change of many governments the Jawahar Nagar dump yard has only seen an increase in the amount of waste that is being dumped there. The problem of the smell is a far greater one than what it initially seemed like, it is one with a lot of lives at stake.