Residents in areas like Kapra, Sainikpuri, Yapral and Neredmet are bearing the brunt of Hyderabad’s ever-increasing garbage problem, as the stench from the city’s landfill at Jawaharnagar travels up to 10 km before settling in these areas.
“We are scared to go out for an evening walk, since the smell that hangs in the air is so dense. Sometimes, the stench comes in the early mornings as well,” says a Sainikpuri resident.
A resident staying near Kapra Lake said that it depended on which way the wind blows. “On some days, it blows the stench towards us and on other days, away from us. It gets worse during the winter, but nowadays it is making its presence felt in the summer as well.”
At ground zero, residents say that they are used to living with the smell and see no solution in sight.
“Of course, it is a big hindrance to our everyday lives, but when you open your window and you see the entire city’s waste in front of your eyes, you don’t really have a choice,” says Saraswati, a resident of a slum right next to the dump yard.
“We live on the house right on top of the hill, close to the dump yard. The smell is there for us throughout the year, and we don’t even have doors and windows to shut. We just accept it, as we also make our living by doing odd jobs over there,” says Amit, as he heads to the landfill with another friend.
Santosh, owner of a nearby bakery, says, “Since we live closer, the smell often goes over our heads when the wind blows. However, the garbage trucks that pass through the day and night in front of my bakery ensure that we get no respite.”
Many locals also complained that there was constant activity in the dump yard throughout the night as well, as several people worked in shifts.
In late October last year, leachate from the dumping yard in Jawaharnagar allegedly resulted in the death of several lakh fishes in three lakes downstream, after heavy rains resulted in the harmful water flowing through Dammaiguda, Rampally, Ghatkesar and finally Edulabad.
At least four lakh fish washed ashore at the 600-acre Edulabad Lake, also known as the Lakshminarayana Cheruvu, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Following this, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) stepped in and installed a mobile unit to treat 2,000 kilo-litres of water per day for a month, which will try to stop leachate seeping into the ground, by using reverse osmosis.
Responding to the latest complaints of the stench by citizens, GHMC is overseeing the ‘capping’ of the entire 130-acre landfill.
In a press release, the GHMC said that the capping would involve using several layers above the garbage, from geo-synthetic clay liner to different varieties of soil and vegetation, besides a gas vent on top.
A Government Order (GO) issued by Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD) Principal Secretary Arvind Kumar said that the entire project should be taken up within the estimated cost of Rs 144 crore, and has set June this year as the deadline.
The Jawaharnagar dumping yard is managed by RamkyEnviro, which comes under the Ramky Group, who had been allotted 340 acres as part of a 25-year contract.