The leachate* treatment plant (LTP) at Bandhwari landfill near Gurgaon became operational earlier this month with the plant releasing its first batch of water.
The plant has started with a capacity of 150 kilolitres per day, releasing about 140 kilolitres of treated water. This water is currently stored on the site and will be sent to the Behrampur sewage treatment plant for further processing.
The garbage dump at Bandhwari landfill is spread over 27 acres and has been a cause of worry for the people living here. Activists and residents living near the landfill have been complaining about untreated leachate emanating from the dump. According to them, the leachate is polluting the groundwater as well as surface water bodies.
Paresh Jindal, deputy general manager (engineering) of Ecogreen Energy, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram’s concessionaire for waste management, said “This water will eventually be used to construct the upcoming waste-to-energy (WTE) plant at Bandhwari.”
In 2015, a survey was conducted by Rekha Singh, an environment expert from the Quality Council of India (ministry of environment, forest & climate change), to test samples from a leachate pond inside the landfill. The total dissolved solids (TDS) count in the water was found at 6,950 mg/l—much higher than the permissible limit of 2,100mg/l according to the Municipal Waste Management Rules, 2000.
“The leachate has started polluting the groundwater that can lead to serious fluoride, phenolic compound, cadmium and mercury poisoning,” Singh had said in her report.
On July 30, 2017, Ecogreen Energy had sent the first batch of water from the LTP for testing to a private laboratory. The results showed that the water did not meet the criteria specified in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2015.
The TDS level had decreased from 25,668mg/l to 5,194mg/l but was still way above the safe limit of 2,100mg/l. Reacting to the report, Rekha Singh had said, “This water cannot be discharged into any local water body. It cannot be used in the operation of a power plant, as the TDS levels will cause scaling issues in the boiler. It cannot even be used in construction activities as the walls will develop cracks.”
According to Jindal, the water would not be discharged in public sewers, water bodies or on land. “The plant’s performance will improve in some time and we will be able to meet all the criteria specified in the Solid Waste Management Rules,” he said.
The construction of LTP started in December 2017 and the project was completed in April 2018, at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore. The WTE plant is expected to be completed by December 2019.
*In environmental context, leachate is defined as any liquid material that drains from land or stockpiled material and contains significantly elevated concentrations of undesirable material derived from the material that it has passed through. It looks like a black, yellow or orange-coloured cloudy liquid with a strong, offensive smell.