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Darjeeling municipality asks district administration to release funds for waste disposal

Darjeeling municipality waste disposal truck
The Darjeeling municipality, allaying fears that it would be very difficult to get rid of the town’s massive garbage accumulation in the near future,  today asked the district administration to release the funds that have been sanctioned under the Solid Waste Management Fund and Bio-Gas Project Fund schemes.
Civic body officials said a landslide has damaged a major part of the dumping chute located at Amar Jyoti Gram, some 2-3 km from town. And this poses a serious problem to workers of the conservancy department who are unable to dispose the garbage from the chute properly. The officials said this could cause serious health hazard situations in the area and its surroundings.
“On April 12, a landslide damaged the dumping chute rendering us unable to dispose the garbage collected from town. At present, we dump the waste onto an open ground near the dumping chute and force it down using an excavator crane. But this kind of operation is being opposed by residents of the area and their stand is correct to an extent,” said Tilak Chhetri, the in-charge of the municipality’s conservancy department.
In fact, the municipality had been compelled to suspend collection of garbage from the town area because of opposition by the residents living near the dumping chute. “The residents of the area did not allow us to dump the garbage in the ground. This forced us to suspend garbage collection for a few days. Fortunately we succeeded in pacifying the residents and since then dumping work is going on normally,” Chhetri said.
The dumping ground with the chute has been functioning since 1979, but now, more than 70 houses have come up in the area. “We have a project to shift the dumping site somewhere below the present area and we have land at our disposal. However, we do not have funds for the project,” the conservancy department in-charge said. But he added, “There are funds to the tune of Rs14 crore with the district administration under the solid waste management and bio-gas projects sanctioned by the state government to the municipality, but they have not been released as yet.”
According to Chettri, more than 22 metric tonnes of garbage are collected each day from the 32 wards under the Darjeeling municipality. This increases to 30-35 metric tonnes each day during the tourist season.
Amar Jyoti Gram resident Dhurba Tamang said if the municipality continues to dispose garbage in the open ground, it would not only create health problems but also invite natural calamities. “The garbage being dumped in the ground is causing a lot of problems to the residents of the area, especially the children. It is summer time and kids are most prone to illnesses,” he said.
Hemant Singh, another resident, said cracks have started developing near the dumping ground after the recent landslide and this was a cause for concern. “Water can seep into the dumping ground as cracks have developed following the landslide. This can lead to a massive landslide putting our lives in real danger,” he said.
Darjeeling DM Anurag Srivastava admitted funds were available but said they were not with the administration. “It is wrong to say that the funds are with the district magistrate’s office. They are with the Treasury department and it is the job of the municipality to approach that department,” he said. (EOIC)

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