Guwahati: Greater Chandrapur area residents have been protesting for over a week against the shifting of the city’s garbage dumping site from Boragaon to Chandrapur.
The residents fear that the garbage dumped in the proposed site—a defunct thermal power plant of the Assam government—will pollute the region’s ecology.
Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) started dumping the garbage in the area on June 28, following a directive of the Assam Government which ordered the Kamrup Metropolitan district to discontinue the Boragaon site and use the newly-created alternative at Chandrapur.
The residents started their protests on June 26 by blocking the road for the GMC officials who came to clear the site inside the power plant. The locals staged a 10-hour sit-in protest near the site on June 28 after the municipal body arrived with 7-8 trucks of garbage under the protection of the police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to dump in the new dumping site.
Locals allege that Chandrapur, a tourist attraction located on the outskirts of Guwahati, also serves as a natural buffer zone for the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, and will lose its prominence. The site is few kilometres away from Kolong and Digaru rivers which merge with Brahmaputra river and they fear that the garbage will affect the water bodies.
All Assam Students Union (AASU) leader Tutumani Kalita said, “The locals have been protesting since August 8, 2019, after the government decided to use the Chandrapur Thermal Power Station as a solid waste management site. This is a threat to the natural habitat as it is adjacent to two wildlife sanctuaries. This move will affect the locals.”
“The dumping ground follows no protocols and violates the solid waste management rules, 2016. There is no demarcation of the waste-to-energy plant, there is no infrastructure and on top of that, there is no environmental impact assessment done. There are many flaws,” he added.
The locals on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma asking him to shift the newly-created Chandrapur landfill to some other part of the city. “We are clear on our part and we will continue our protests until they [government] don’t accept our demand. We have a series of protests lined up. We cannot bear any ecological damage in our area,” Kalita told EastMojo.
Moreover, the residents allege that the dumping ground, proposed by the government as Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility (SWMF) bears no resemblance to a solid waste management facility. “For solid waste management facilities and garbage-to-energy set-up, there has to be waste segregation but unfortunately, there is none. There is no infrastructure. It will be a Boragaon-like dumping ground,” Jagannath Rajbangshi, a retired headmaster, told EastMojo.
“The dumping ground is near a World Bank-funded drinking water supply project of Kolong River. The garbage will contaminate the drinking water since the rainwater will flow down with the garbage to the river. It will be so hazardous for us,” Rajbangshi added.
“Chandrapur is a gift of nature. We are blessed with rich flora and fauna, rivers, wetlands and wildlife sanctuaries. We are rich historically and ecologically. We serve as a getaway for city residents to breathe fresh air. Instead of making it an ecotourism spot, the government is planning to pollute it. Our future generation will curse us for not saving our area,” he said.
Speaking to the media, Water Resources Minister Pijush Hazarika said, “I’m of the opinion that a dumping ground should be far from the residential area. We need to discuss with all stakeholders and ultimately have to create a dumping ground somewhere. There has to be a dumping ground after all.”
Chandrapur dumping ground is one of the four Integrated Solid Waste Management Facilities allocated to the GMC by Kamrup Metropolitan district administration following an order of the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT in 2019 asked the GMC to shift the Boragaon site, which is adjoining Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site in west Guwahati.