Haphazard situation of Aminbazar landfill
Dhaka city has been witnessing solid waste management problem for a long time. Even though government has taken some initiatives for disposal of solid waste, they are not sufficient. Beside the Dhaka-Aricha highway, the Aminbazar landfill was established for waste disposal with the help of Japan government in 2006 on 52 acres of wetland. Waste generated from areas of the Dhaka North City Corporation is dumped here.
However, the landfill is running with less than 20 per cent of the required staff. Consequently, the landfill cannot perform accordingly. At present, only 19 staffs are maintaining the whole activities. It has only one operational waste management vehicle of its own. With no segregation and recycling facility, the landfill has been struggling to manage daily collection of more than 3,000 tonnes of solid waste.
Even though the site was planned as a sanitary landfill, a very few things were done according to the plan. The leachate collection pond and treatment plant were non-functional till 2018, while the recycling plant still exists only on paper. There is no heavy equipment to give the daily soil covering. Consequently, the continuous dumping of waste has formed a mountain of garbage, which towers approximately 60 feet. Since there is no manpower for waste segregation and recycling, the landfill authorities allow in hundreds of waste pickers, who collect recyclable materials from the dumped garbage. These extremely poor people, many of whom are women and children, come from nearby villages and stay at the landfill from morning to night every day.
These waste pickers segregate reusable plastics, glass and metal objects from knee-to-waist-deep heaps of waste without wearing any gloves, masks or any other type of safety gear, exposing themselves to different kinds of skin and respiratory diseases. Most of them are also suffering from skin diseases and breathing problems. The landfill authorities also cannot give daily soil cover over the garbage due to the shortage of heavy equipment. Subsequently, unbearable stink emanates from the place.
To solve the problem, experts opine to install energy plant which will convert waste into energy. The DNCC has recently signed an agreement with China Machinery Engineering Corporation to set up a 42.5MW power plant at the landfill, which will produce electricity by incinerating the waste at high temperature. The authorities must address the problems regarding burning of plastics which produces toxic gases and carcinogenic compounds--endangering the public health. The urge the government and non-government institutions to take plausible initiatives and promote environment-friendly alternatives.