An army of sanitation and municipal workers is busy clearing up thousands of tonnes of illegally dumped construction debris along the Gurgaon – Faridabad road ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city next week.
But, instead of carrying it to one of the 14 dumping sites marked for throwing debris, the workers have been dumping it on the Aravalli belt along the road.
In just two hours, the NDTV team saw close to a dozen tractor trolley loads of debris, scooped up from the road side, being emptied into the Aravalli forest. After each trolley, a bulldozer quickly moves in to flatten out the debris to make way for another trolley load. Several trees have also been felled by the bulldozers as they push the debris further off the road side.
The trucks have also been dumping discarded asbestos sheets and fibre glass wool into depressions near natural water channels, posing a serious health risk.
“These are the natural recharge zones for groundwater for Delhi and Gurgaon. These trees are the only green lungs for both the cities, dumping this here will cause serious damage,” says Vivek Kamboj, an environmental campaigner who has been battling to save the Aravallis.
Environmentalists have complained to the police and the forest department, which has ordered an inquiry. The fine for cutting trees without permission is a paltry Rs. 100 and a possible jail term of 30 days. Even that is enforced rarely.
“The main focus is to clean up the road for the PM’s visit, while dumping of debris in the green zone is wrong, it is for the forest department to take action” says D C Sharma, a junior engineer with the horticulture department, in charge of overseeing the cleaning operation.
“The fact that debris is being dumped on to forest land is being examined,” says Gurgaon DC, TL Satyaprakash. “Nobody wants waste in their own back yard making it difficult to find sites where people can dump debris.” Mr Satyaprakash says he’s hopeful he can convince some villages to allow for a construction waste processing plant.
PM Modi and French President Hollande will be in Gurgaon next week inaugurating the secretariat for the Global Solar alliance proposed by India to fight climate change.