Gujarat Government Fails to Close Down Pirana Landfill, 3 Lakh People at Health Risk

Reported by

Aditi Patil

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016

Updated on

December 26, 2016

Location of Conflict

Pirana

Ahmedabad

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Waste Management

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

300000

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

34

ha

Starting Year

1980

State

Gujarat

Sector

Infrastructure

Burning garbage at Pirana landfill is reportedly affecting the health of around three lakh people who live in its vicinity. As per the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, garbage dumps and residential areas must be at least 500 metres apart, but the Pirana landfill violates this rule.
The residents filed a public interest litigation in the Gujarat high court demanding immediate closure of the landfill site and shifting its location. In response, the court issued notices to the state government, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).
Flammable chemicals at the dump, aided by methane emanating from the rotting garbage, often result in fires engulfing an entire three-kilometre area in thick smoke. A local non-profit had collected medical records of people living at Shahwadi, Piplaj and Ektanagar areas. The records show them suffering from asthama, cancer and heart and kidney-related disease.
According to D.J. Mohan from the Environmental Bureau of Investigation, "The enormous dumping of solid waste has led to an increase in the number of flies and plague-causing rodents. These flies, which carry pathogenic organisms, cause diseases such as dysentery and diarrhoea. It is estimated that about 70,000 flies can live in one cubic foot of garbage. Just imagine the potential of Gyaspur-Pirana."
Moreover, the seepage of toxic materials in the neighbouring areas has led to groundwater pollution. The AMC has never carried out a health survey in the area. However, a 2015 survey conducted by the Insaf Foundation found that 19 people in 40 families had died due to kidney disorders and respiratory issues and two had died of cancer in recent years.
Interestingly, the area largely consists of Dalits, Muslims, Bangladeshi migrants and those displaced by the 2002 riots. Non-profits argue that this has played a significant role in the issue being ignored. The AMC director, on the other hand, has argued that the AMC owes nothing to these people since they are encroachers. On that account, it has refused to provide relief if they are relocated elsewhere.
So far, there have been no attempts to reconstruct the site scientifically. The AMC states that it is not possible since the current garbage load is too much to remove and even temporary closure of the landfill is not an option since the city has no other landfill to accommodate such an amount of garbage.
In June 2017, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani made an ambitious statement, declaring that the Pirana problem will be solved even if it cost INR 500 crore. The AMC, however, has only discontinued collection of unsegregated waste from households, hoping that this will have an effect on the amount of garbage generated throughout the city.
In February 2019, the Gujarat Urban Development Mission shortlisted Tata Consultancy for the scientific closure of the site. The detailed project report was completed by IL&FS in 2016 and was approved by the Union government.
In March 2019, the Gujarat high court lambasted the AMC for its lackadaisical approach in dealing with the closure of the Pirana landfill and coming up with an alternate site. In July that year, the National Green Tribunal directed the state government to deposit INR 75 crore in an escrow account to clear the site. The AMC is yet to take concrete steps in the direction.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for closure of the garbage mound

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016
Schedule I Clause D [Guidelines for prevention of pollution while disposing waste]; Clause J [Closure of old dumps and legacy waste]
M. C. Mehta v. Union of India (IA No. 22 in WP (C) No. 4677 of 1985 dated March 18 2004, Supreme Court of India)
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

Name of the adjudicatory body

National Green Tribunal (Principal Bench)

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Gujarat

Case Number

WP (PIL) No. 254/2016, OA No. 113/2019

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

On March 26, 2019, the NGT sought an action report from a joint committee of the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board and the Central Pollution Control Board. On July 2 that year, the NGT observed that the continuous smoke emanating from the Pirana site is a huge source of pollution and must be dealt with as legacy waste under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The NGT estimated the cost of clearing the site to be about INR 75 crore, which the state government was directed to transfer to an escrow account. On August 20, 2019, the NGT directed that the Pirana site waste must be cleared on a strict timeline, within a year. The public interest litigation filed by Kaleem Siddhiqui of the Insaf Foundation before the high court has been dismissed because of the pending litigation before the NGT.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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Reviewed By

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