Despite spending a whopping Rs. 4500 crores on organizing the mela, observations by NGT and Justice Tandon Committee revealed, the arrangements that were put in place by mela administration and state government did not only flout the environmental laws but caused intensive land and water pollution leaving city on the verge of an epidemic.
NGT formed a Committee to look into the aftermath of the mela and suggest deadlines to hold concerned parties accountable and force them to clean up and restore the sanitary state of the city. A few important points from the NGT order and the report presented by the Justice Tandon Committee have been highlighted below:
Baswar solid waste treatment plant
Nearly 950 metric tons per day of solid waste was being sent to the Baswar plant which had only a capacity of 600 metric tons per day. It was also noted that only 75% of the solid waste was, in fact, reaching the plant. All of this was found to be in gross violation of the NGT order and Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 as the Baswar plant was reportedly not event functional since September 2018.
Approximately 60,000 metric ton of solid waste had been collected at solid waste management plant, Baswar which was lying untreated. Around 65-70 thousand metric ton of unsegregated solid waste was lying at Baswar plant of which merely 18000 metric ton was the waste generated in the Kumbh area.
At several places in the city, a system of Geotubes was installed to treat the dirty water flowing from the drains into the rivers. However, this system proved to be hugely ineffective. Six Geotubes were installed near the Rajapur drain of which only 50% of sewerage water was being treated through Geotube and the remaining was being permitted to enter river Ganga without treatment.
Working of the Geotube at Mawaiya Nala and Arail Nala was far from satisfactory and that untreated drains were meeting the effluent from the discharge of the Geotubes at some distance. Two Geotubes were installed at the Salori STP and both of them were non-functional, which resulted in polluted water entering the Ganga without any treatment. Several other Geotubes installed at the Latehar Drain and Mansuthia Drain were also not functional and hence were of no use in preventing water pollution.
More than 1 lakh toilets were constructed during the festival, along with as many as 36 temporary ponds dug up near the Ganga riverbed. The dirty water was supposed to be collected at different cross section points in Indraprastham city. Observations by the Committee has revealed that all the dirty water collection points were dry and did not have a single drop of water in them.
Toilets waste drains and camps had been constructed at a distance hardly less than 10 meters from the river, leading to passive water pollution and underground water contamination. The kuchha ponds constructed near Hanuman Temple were found to be filled with dirty water one month after the festival was over. Mosquitoes and insects were breeding in it. The committee also found a big dirty pond at Parmarth Niketan Arail and human excreta was seen floating in the water.
The inadequate arrangements made on behalf of the mela administration and the government in segregation, collection and proper disposal & treatment of waste from the festival are in gross negligence of the NGT’s order dated 10 December 2015 and the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. Non-cooperation between the supervisory committee and the mela administration has worsened the ground-level situation in Waste Management post-Kumbh mela.
The Committee has observed that with 1 lakh metric tons of waste being accumulated at the Baswar plant, an urgent and efficient operation of the plant is of utmost importance to eradicate the growing diseases and avoid the potential of epidemics caused in the city by the waste.
The Principal Secretary of Urban Development, Uttar Pradesh, has reported on the specific action plans and deadlines, as follows:
Action Plan at Baswar: An action plan will come up in place to segregate the recyclables, separate the inserts and compost the organic waste, by 30th June 2019.
Action Plan for Drains: The treatment of drains would be undertaken through bioremediation and Geobag technology, by 15th June 2019.
Action Plan for Sludge in Geobags: The treatment of sludge in Geobags will be done by the vendor as per the plan annexed, by 30th June 2019.
The Committee will follow up on the actions taken but as of now, it is clearly evident how much of a necessity it was to form the Committee in order to look into the waste management aspects of the Kumbh. The NGT’s order and the Committee’s report will ensure that appropriate and urgent measures are taken to ensure the sanctity of the environment and health of the city’s residents.
(Author is the Coordinator – Social Media and Designs team at SDC. She tweets at upasanaray1)