Pirdi, a village on the banks of river Beas in Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh, has been a common waste disposal site for Bhuntar Nagar Panchayat, Municipal Corporation Kullu (Kullu MC) and Shamshi village since 1991. The site also houses an incinerator that burns biomedical waste from the neighbouring areas of Mandi, Bilaspur and Kullu.
According to the biomedical waste annual report of 201718 of the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the Pirdi dumping site collects 340 kilogram of biomedical waste per day, in addition to the 18.74 metric tonnes of solid waste generated from nearby places. The installed incinerator, on the other hand, has the capacity to treat 150 kilogram of waste per day.
The dumping site is situated at a distance of five kilometres from the city and is one kilometre away from human habitation. The distance from the nearest water body is a mere 30 metres while seven to eight schools are located within three kilometres of the site.
The residents of Balh, Jarad, Mohal and Talogi panchayats, which are in the vicinity of the dumping site, are anxious of health risks and environmental pollution. They have also complained about the foul smell emanating from the garbage. They allege that the garbage is being dumped illegally in the name of making compost.
On June 19, 2017, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled that the Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, and Executive Officer of the Municipal Committees of KulluManali and Bhuntar shall ensure that no garbage is dumped in Pirdi, adjoining Johar Village, particularly on the river bank. It is submitted that within two weeks from today a site will be identified by the deputy commissioner where municipal solid waste would be dumped for its proper management and handling
The Supreme Court also dismissed a plea of Kullu MC to continue to throw garbage at the Pirdi dumping yard and incinerator plant and directed it to follow the orders of the NGT. When no action was taken for almost a year, and garbage continued to pile up in Pirdi in violation of the NGT judgement, the residents and members of Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) from Balh, Mohal and Talogi panchayats staged a protest in Kullu in September 2018, forcibly stopping wastecollecting vehicles at the site by blocking the road. They had also submitted a memorandum to the concerned authorities earlier.
When Kullu MC could not find an alternative site for disposal, it moved the Supreme Court to seek relief. On October 1, 2018, Kullu MC bought itself four weeks time from the Supreme Court but it again failed to find an alternative site. Following this, the residents took to the road again at the end of October.
After the relief period, the municipal council continued to dump garbage here. Nobody came to stop them. They are causing harm to the environment. The municipal corporation should comply with the Supreme Court order, Joginder Thakur, president of FRCs in Balh Panchayat, told Land Conflict Watch. In response to this, the municipal corporation once again approached the apex court, which provided it relief till January 2, 2019.
In early January, two alternative dumping sites were recognised in Bajaura and Dughilug, but the residents refused to give an NOC.
In the absence of an alternative site, the garbage collected door to door from 11 wards continues to be thrown in the open, posing a problem to residents and tourists alike. While no instances of garbage dumping has been recorded in Pirdi since January 2, 2019, the older garbage continues to lie there, posing a health hazard.