The Taj Mahal, the famous 240-foot-high tomb, is India’s best known landmark. But now a different sort of tomb, New Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill — dubbed “rubbish mountain” — is projected to surpass that height next year, creating a very different mark on the land.
This Taj Mahal of trash, larger than 40 football fields, is 213 feet tall and rising more than 30 feet a year.
Every day it adds 2,000 tons of new trash. It’s emblematic of a world awash in trash, with our oceans saturated in plastic, and China now refusing to take U.S. recycled waste.
This noxious dump is so huge that India’s Supreme Court has said it may need warning lights at the top to protect aircraft.
The Times of India described it this week as “a fetid symbol for what the UN [United Nations] considers the world’s most polluted capital.”
The dump is a health disaster area. A black toxic liquid leaches from it into a nearby canal. It emits methane gas, which fuels fires that take days to put out.
“The poisonous smell has made our lives hell,” a 45-year-old resident, Puneet Sharma, told AFP. “People fall sick all the time.” One local doctor reported seeing some 70 people each day, including babies, with stomach and respiratory problems caused by the dirty air.
The Ghazipur landfill only compounds the problem for the citizens of super-polluted Delhi.
The city’s pollution was so bad in November 2017 that Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted that smog and pollution reach dangerous levels each year when the states north of Delhi burn more than 35 million tons of crop.
“Delhi has become a gas chamber,” he wrote. “Every year this happens during this part of year. We have to find a [solution] to crop burning in adjoining states.”
Politics has played a role in allowing the waste problem to fester. As the Times reports, the city has “warring authorities — the region is controlled by one party while the BJP runs the city authorities,” which have delayed efforts to find serious solutions.
Perhaps having a dump the size of the Taj Mahal will finally bring about real action.