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Waste management at Uruli Devachi in Pune, MH, India


Description:

Although Pune is very well known for its waste management strategies over the years, there are several protests that sprout almost every year when it comes to the waste dump and the management of waste in areas surrounding the city. Pune’s landfill lies on the periphery of the city, at Uruli Devachi in the Phursungi area.

The residents of these areas have faced many problems due to the accumulating waste. The accumulated garbage that results in the leachate run- off has contaminated the groundwater in the neighbouring areas of Phursungi and waste that catches fire in the hot, dry summer months leads to air pollution and thus, results in many respiratory diseases.

The citizens of the area have been on a prolonged fight to get the location of the landfill shifted. Protests have taken place in symbolic manners- like the burning of garbage in front of Pune Municipal Corporation Authorities adding to which several trucks that carry the city’s garbage have been prevented from entering the area. The residents of these areas claim that they themselves don’t dump waste in the Uruli Devachi landfill as it adversely affects their own health and the sanitation of the area they reside in. Land prices have also massively fallen. As the demand from the villagers to the civic authorities for changing the location of the landfill has been increasing, the Municipal Authorities of Pune have written to the state government to sanction another plot of land for Pune’s waste. However, the state government hasn’t got back to the Municipal corporation on this matter, and the case has been pending.

There have also been instances where wet waste is also being dumped in the landfill, which is posing a greater threat to the residents. Due to the accumulation of leachate over the years, the surrounding area cannot be used for farming due to the deposition of unwanted minerals and chemicals. 50% of the area cannot be irrigated, which has led to a massive drop in the land prices in the area.

Although Pune has strict rules for segregation of garbage at the household level and stringent laws at the society level for composting domestic wet waste and promoting vermiculture, some of the waste collectors in Phursungi say that there is no segregation of waste at the corporation level as the trucks dump all the segregated waste from the depot to the landfill and the waste ultimately gets mixed up in the landfill.

The PMC had promised government jobs for 57 people since they were rehabilitated in the 1990s, during the development of the landfill. Only 20% of them have received these jobs. Even after constant court cases with the National Green Tribunal in Pune, 70% of the city’s waste is still dumped in the area. Another solution that has been implemented in similar cases has been the installation of incinerators. However, many activists in Pune have not allowed it as the PMC fails to regulate the temperature, which might lead to air pollution.

The city authorities along with the civic bodies have spent more that 16 crore rupees in installing incinerators in 25 locations around the city, however, the plants do not have enough installed capacity and some of them are also out of order. Another area near Hadapsar is  being considered for a new landfill sight.

In April 2017, "a fire at  Phursungi’s garbage depot sparked an avalanche effect that is releasing simmering discontent, with villagers from the area as well as Uruli Devachi now hell bent on not letting any garbage from Pune Municipal Corporation enter their limits. With the agitation hiting its 10-day mark, villagers marked the occasion with a special Jagran Gondhal ritual (an all-night vigil) at a pandal outside the dumping yard" (1)l

One year later, "while the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Pune bench has slapped a show cause notice to Pune municipal corporation (PMC) for not addressing the Uruli Devachi garbage issue, the villagers have decided to take a firm stance against the civic body by planning an agitation from August 2 (2018)".(2)

 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Waste management at Uruli Devachi in Pune, MH, India
Country:India
State or province:Maharashtra
Location of conflict:Phursungi, Pune
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Land
Domestic municipal waste
E-waste
Water
Recycled Metals
Wet Waste, Plastic

Project Details and Actors

Project details

500 tonnes of waste is dumped into the landfill every day, which includes a mix of wet and dry waste.

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:160,000 (approx)
Start of the conflict:2015
Relevant government actors:Pune Municipal Corporation, State Government of Maharashtra, Civic Bodies in Pune. National Green Tribunal.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Strikes
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Fires, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution
Other Environmental impactsLeachate run-off leads to soil damage
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsBurning of the waste has led to bronchitis in some cases. Polluted groundwater has led to several water borne diseases like cholera.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Other socio-economic impactsIrrigation is not possible due to leachate run-off contaminating the soil. 50% of the surrounding land is not cultivable. Land prices have heavily dropped in Uruli Devachi, Phursungi and the surrounding areas. People who were displaced in 1990 for the development of the landfill have still not been provided compensation or alternate jobs.

Outcome

Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:The Pune Municipal Corporation has decided to change the location of the landfill to another area, however, this has not been sanctioned by the state government.
25 incineration plants have been built around the city, but only very few are being used. Five of them are not in working condition.
The temperature of the incinerators are not being regulated, which leads to further air pollution.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The environmental conflict has come to light, however, there has been very minimal development on the issue.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Sayyed, M. R. G., & Wagh, G. S. (2011). An assessment of groundwater quality for agricultural use: a case study from solid waste disposal site SE of Pune, India. Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 1(3-4), 195-201.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Outlook India. THE NEWS SCROLL04 MAY 2017. Pune garbage crisis aggravates
https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/pune-garbage-crisis-aggravates/1041881

(2) Hindustan Times (Ashish Phadnis). Garbage dumpyard: Pune residents to agitate on August 2 to end 27-year ordeal with ‘city’ waste. Urali Devachi villagers in no mood to believe PMC promises and to start agitations from August 2. Updated: Jul 28, 2018
https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/garbage-dumpyard-pune-residents-to-agitate-on-august-2-to-end-27-year-ordeal-with-city-waste/story-5JqcdXjFvayGOPyOMoPY6O.html

(1) Pune Mirror. Phursungi, Uruli villagers mark protest with a ‘Jagran Gondhal". Dheeraj Bengrut. 27 April 2017.
https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/phursungi-uruli-villagers-mark-protest-with-a-jagran-gondhal/articleshow/58386907.cms

Meta information

Contributor:Smriti Jalihal and Helena Baby, [email protected] and [email protected]
Last update11/06/2019

Images

 

Waste pickers try to find something valuable from the garbage dumping site at Uruli Devachi which reportedly holds around 2.5 lakh metric tonnes waste.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)