SAMBALPUR: Four years after getting the corporation tag, Sambalpur is still struggling to dispose of garbage in the absence of an integrated municipal solid waste management system and a scientific dumping yard.
In June 2016, the then Sambalpur Municipal Corporation (SMC) Commissioner, Bimalendu Rai, proposed an integrated solid waste management plant over 31.1 acre land at Nildungri on the outskirts of the city. A consultant was also entrusted with the task of preparing a detailed project report of the plant for approval of the State Government. But the plant is yet to take off.
At present, garbage generated from Sambalpur is being dumped at temporary dumping yard in Durgapalli along Mahanadi river. The spot has turned into a menace for the people of the area. With tonnes of unsegregated solid waste heaped across a large patch of land, smoke emanating from burning garbage mound throughout the day is a common sight for the residents.
Stray cattle are found feeding on these wastes. While burning garbage causes air pollution, burnt residues contaminate Mahanadi river water. Akash Debata, a regular commuter on the route, said stray cattle sustain injuries while grazing near the burning piles as they encounter minor blasts.
Environmentalist and Mahanadi River Waterkeeper Ranjan Panda said, “The open dumping of toxic garbage also causes contamination of groundwater. Burning of these garbage aggravates the problem.” Though Panda has approached the administration on many occasions urging them to look into the problem, the menace continues.
Deputy Commissioner in-charge of SMC Subhankar Mohanty said garbage is being dumped temporarily at Durgapalli and lifted every second day to another site. The dumping yard project was cancelled as clearance was not given by the Government. Garbage piles are lit up by rag pickers. Though they have been prohibited from doing so by SMC several times, they set ablaze the heaps during night, he added.
To resolve the issue, the civic body is setting up decentralised compost plants across the city. Work on three plants is going on in full swing and it is likely to take a few more years to be operational, he said. As a temporary measure, Panda suggested that the civic body should go for sanitary landfills and segregation of garbage at doorsteps and also recycling.