In south Delhi, RWAs against shut dhalaos being used as shops


The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) closed down at least 54% of the Capital’s primary garbage receptacle points or dhalaos over the last two years, a report on municipal waste management prepared by the department of environment management services (DEMS or the sanitation wing) of the civic body has showed, officials said on Sunday. However, the corporation is facing resistance in re-utilising these spots for commercial use in several South Delhi areas.

The report, submitted by DEMS to the environment ministry of the Delhi government on February 16, said the corporation was operating 1,442 dhalaos in the city in 2021. (HT Archive)

The report, submitted by DEMS to the environment ministry of the Delhi government on February 16, said the corporation was operating 1,442 dhalaos in the city in 2021. The phased closure of these units brought down thenumber to 819 in April 2022, and then to 662 in February 2023. “A total of 780 dhalaos have been closed down since January 2021 and 450 of these sites are being put to alternative use. Another 330 sites will be put to alternative use in coming months,” the report said.

Delhi generates over 11,332 tonne of municipal waste every day, of which 11,000 tonne is estimated to be generated in MCD areas, 260 tonne in the New Delhi Municipal Council areas and 72 tonne in the Delhi cantonment areas. The dhalaos are pre-processing centres for the municipal waste collection system of the city, from where garbage is taken to waste-to-energy plants, composting units or landfill sites depending on the location and quality of waste stream.

A senior municipal official of the sanitation department attributed the closure of dhalaos to increased mechanisation of the garbage collection process– the deployment of mechanical mobile and fixed garbage compactors that reduce the volume of the garbage. “One compactor station can easily process garbage that was earlier handled by two to three dhalao sites, freeing up the old open sites. Moreover, as door-to-door collection of waste increases, the need for open dumpsites, like dhalaos, will go down,” the official explained, asking not to be named.

To be sure, according to policies cleared by the three erstwhile municipal corporations, the closed dhalao sites can be re-purposed for a host of alternative uses, including setting up milk booths, rest areas for sanitation staff, material recovery facilities, stores, mini public libraries, senior citizens centres, charitable dispensaries, and subsidised meal points.

RWAs oppose milk booths

According to data from MCD’s remunerative projects cell, former dhalao sites in areas such as Raghubir Nagar, Rajouri Garden,Hari Nagar Janakpuri, Vasant Kunj, RK Puram and Chirag Delhi have been allocated for usage as milk booths. However, the move has invited the ire of residents in areas such as Greater Kailash, Defence Colony and Green Park who have decried the use of these spaces for commercial activities. Sanjay Rana, general secretary of the Greater Kailash 2 residents’ welfare association (RWA), said they have taken the matter to the court. “We filed a writ petition before the Delhi high court, seeking stay of the demolition of a dhalao and construction of milk booths. The court has stayed the demolition. One dhalao is installed inside a children’s park. Allowing commercial activities inside a park by demolishing the said dhalao and installing milk booths without making necessary modifications to the layout plan of GK 2 is prejudicial to children and residents,” he added.

Rana said that the MoU between the corporation and the operator was arrived without consultation with the RWA. Rana said that the site could be used for collection of leaves or horticulture waste among other possible uses. “This precedent of setting up a shop should not be allowed,” he added.

Rajeev Suri, a resident of Defence Colony and environmental activist, said that they too have filed a petition in court against the conversion of the old dhalaos to milk booths. “These are social infrastructures and should not be looked at from the point of view of revenue generation. They should use it for the segregation of waste or recycling materials. We are against commercial use of these sites,” he said.

Suri added that the increased use of compactor machines is bad as they press loose garbage together and the possibility of segregating waste at dhalao-level is lost.

Neha Puri, a member of the Green Park Extension RWA said that the dhalao on Hukum Chand Marg was closed down by MCD but not demolished. “MCD is saying that they will convert it to a milk booth or a store for clothes or a training centre. The structure is located on a narrow busy road and we want it to be demolished as a decongestion measure. We do not need so many milk booths and MCD might look at it as a revenue generation model,” she added.

Meanwhile, waste management experts do not think closing down dhalaos is a good idea. “Many dhalaos have been tagged as material recovery facilities. One MRF can barely contain the waste from a couple of colonies and these sites could be given to micro entrepreneurs for recycling of waste,” Bharati Chaturvedi, an environmentalist, waste management expert and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, said.

Chaturvedi said that the Chintan Group conducted a study and found that dhalaos being run by women are able to earn well over 25,000 by segrating and recycling waste, invest in the education of their children and bring positive change to the neighbourhood. “Where would all the waste go? It will be sorted on pavements and nallahs. Let’s use these sites for innovation and entrepreneurship of waste management,” she said, adding that instead of using the space for selling milk, the sites should be used for running MRFs by the informal sector. “The Bengaluru municipal corporation has 250 dry waste collection centres. Instead of turning their dhalaos into milk booths, they are building more dhalaos and giving them to entrepreneurs for waste management,” she added.

An MCD spokesperson, meanwhile, said the civic body would take note of the RWA’s grievances. “RWAs have been strong partners of the corporation in extending best civic services. There might be a communication gap that would have caused them to oppose the use of closed dhalaos as milk booths and other public-oriented services. Nonetheless, we will hear out the grievances of RWAs and will resolve them.”

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here