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Deepor Beel: High Time to Buckle up

By Prakreetish Sarma and Pratash Saharia


One of the biggest problem that Guwahati city faces is with the management of solid waste. It
can safely be considered as the only major city in North East India with a population of 10
million plus. There were different dumping zones during different phase of time such as Fatasil,
barsapara but since a considerable amount of time the authorities have settled for a location
named Boragaon, but there is a problem attached to the dumping site. It not only creates a
unhygienic conditions for the residents living nearby but also because it lies near a sensitive eco
belt namely ‘Deepor Beel Wildlie Sanctuary’ and Undoubtedly its adverse affects such as
damage to the nearby immediate water body, clogging, damage to the aquatic life etc cannot be
ruled out. In 2002 the central Ministry of Environment and Forests decided to create Eco-
Sensitive zone in 2002. And this demarcation was made with an aim to preserve the ecology of
the sensitive area such as areas near 10kms from eco- fragile zones. And in lieu of which various
National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries were brought within the fore fold. However the
authorities realized that absolute prohibition would not be possible, hence in 2005 it was decided
that “the delineation of Eco- Sensitive Zones would be site specific and related to regulation”.
Deepor Beel Wildlife sanctuary which is a eco sensitive zone and also a Ramsar Site(Wetland
which is given international importance under Ramsar Convntion which is an intergovernmental
environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESO and was implemented in 1975) which is
itself a strong point to protect and conserve the same due to its importance from a lot of fronts.
The Buying and Selling of land is regulated and is mostly banned in the areas nearby. Wildlife
conservation is also another issue that is being given importance, Deepor Beel is a wetland and
apart from that is also a host for migratory birds and is an Elephant Corridor. Time and again it
can be observed that due to the railway tracks near the elephant corridor, which is a constant
threat for the health of the elephants that is the reason NGT has time and again directed the
authorities to take measures such as adopt a long-term measure for ‘freeing the elephant corridor
from the railway tracks’ by constructing either an overpass or an underpass.
As has been stated by Dr Rajdeep Dutta Wetlands protect us from floods, droughts and other
disasters, he also highlights upon the fact that wetlands is a source of food and livelihood for

millions of people. It supports rich biodiversity and it is also reported that they can store more
carbon than any other ecosystem in the world. Wetlands play a very important role in the water
cycle by receiving, storing and releasing water over time, regulating water flow and providing
water needed to support life. He further throws light upon the state of Assam where inland
wetlands, flood plain wetlands cover 5,54,213 hectare area. In Assam, there are 1392 floodplain
wetlands, covering a water area of more than 1,00,000 hectares locally known as ‘beels’. He
points out towards the sorry state of affairs of depletion of the same due to various factors such
as Encroachment, Siltation, weed infestation etc.
Although the Guwhahti Municipal Corporation was established way back in 1974 which deals
with managing Solid Waste, but due to a myopic vision or lack of proper planning it never had
come up with a proper dumping site although it produces more than 500 metric tons of solid
waste daily which overburdens the Boragaon Dumping site as has been observed by researcher
Elliot such waste is hazardous to Human Health as well as they contain cancer- inducing agents
and may similarly lead to lymphatic and hematopoietic cancers and its roots can be traced to
people who are exposed to fire periodically from the open dumps, the smoke that is generated
from there. As Dr Lakhimi Gogoi opines landfill fire emits from a variety of pollutants such as
cigarette thrown by worker, sanitary landfill etc and they have the potential to affect the health of
the people and specially the workers. She has further said that the dumping practice at the West
Boragaon Dumping site is not according to the set principles of public health and environmental
protection norms.
Looking at the entire scenario a petition was filed before the National Green Tribunal(NGT)
Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata by activist Rohit Chowdhury, after rounds of litigation on 29 th april
2019 the authorities had given a green nod so as to shift the current dumping site and reallocate it
in Chandrapur area which is located in Kamrup metropolitan area is located approximately
around 15 kms from Guwahati city. Apart from that the authorities had also paid heed to the
importance of protecting and ensuring the movement of elephants across the corridors such as
Segunbari, Matia and Mikirpara at Azara railway whose starting point of northern alignment.
hence a direction was taken by the railways to reduce the speed by 15 march 2019, and the speed
limit was reduced to 30 km per hour during bypassing the said area, which shall ensure that the

corridor of elephant is kept free from accessing Deepor Beel and also to avoid the age old
problem of man and animal conflict.
And in febuary 2020 the stakeholders came out with a solution to handle the integrated Solid
Waste Management Facilities(SWMF) in Guwhati and four(4) integrated management sites had
been identified within the periphery of the city along with few within the vicinity of the city such
as an organic waste converter plant in Bhangagarh, a bio-methanation plant at Chatribari
Beelpar locality and a compost plant at the existing Boragaon Site however the authorities have
directed to do away with the dumping site and has bestowed the responsibility to Assam state
Bio- Diversity Board to follow the footsteps of Neel Khas dumping site near Yamuna Diversity
Park, Noida. And in lieu of the order the said land to set up the integrated Solid Waste
Management Facilities(SWMF) in Guwahati and four(4) integrated management sites was
handed over to GMCH but in one of the sites that is in site 02 in Tamulikuchi NC under Sonapur
Mouza a 27 Bigha land was allotted to set up a said dumping site but has instead lead to
widespread protest spearheaded The All India Tribal Students Association, Assam (AITSAA)
and the other inhabitants who are fear that setting up of the dumping site will pose a threat to the
ecosystem and futher contaminate the river bodies as the proposed(sylvan) comes into contact
with the Dighalnadi rivulet and the Langpi waterfall and stream which ultimately flows into the
Digharu river. The local Gaon Burah Mr Pradip Bey has also raised concerns related to issues
such as dumping and assimilation of huge quantities of waste and also related to the spillover
from the waste. However the waste treatment plant creates an adverse effect to the environment
such as it causes mono-nitogen oxide, reduce oxygen concentration therefore might just leave the
whole stretch in dilapidated state which has become the moot reason for opposing the dumping
plant.
However the proposed site( no. 1) at Old Chandrapur Thermal Power Station of Assam Power
Generation Corporation Ltd. (APGCL) out of the 4 Solid Waste Management Facilities (SWMF),
could turn out to be a respite for the authorities in such a deadlock situation at site no
1 (Sonapur), as the land allotted there expands over an area of 40 Bighas and furthermore the
APGCL has already provided a no-objection with regard to setting up of

the said plant and have
also a MOA(Memorendum of Agreement) has been signed between the both parties and they
have come out with a lot of positive aspects such as scientific handling, storage and segregation

of the waste and also scientific method to be adopted so as to prevent contamination after
segregation of the waste. As of now the plant in Chandrapur(site 1) could be used as it prima
facie it appears to be viable from many fronts and for the time being if the operations in Sonapur
plant(site 2) could be halted and a more environmentally feasible method could be set by a joint
committee which shall constitute local representation( panchayat, The All India Tribal Students
Association, Assam etc) and also experts. Then maybe the deadlock could be resolved and
anyways the plant no 1 looks promising although it might take some more time to start with the
operation but it is better to take time and start rather than carry out work in a place encircled by
problems.
As of now Deepor Beel and its depletion can be minimized with a few small steps, we as
common people can do minimal things such as avoid littering the place in and around Deepor
beel there are a few small shops, establishments etc. whenever someone travels there and
consumes any food product one should be extra careful not to dispose the waste in open as
ultimately it is going to ruin the entire eco system out there and also comply with the NGT;s
direction to drive at a speed of 30km or less and not flout it, and this will ensure that the
movement of elephants are not disturbed up to a certain extent. The NGT order in August 2019
has also taken cognizance of the issue related to the issue of encroachment specially along the
water bodies and also directed that the water body be made free of hydrophytes. NGT has also
passed an order that the state shall declare the ecosensitive zone for the Deepor Beel including
the adjacent sanctuary. And the inhabitants of places such as Basitha or Jalukbari site( near
Assam Engineering College) which touches the boundaries of Deepor Beel should be extra
careful while disposing of waste as apart from Boragaon Dumping site wastes, deepor beel has
suffered due to careless attitude by human beings who have a tendency dispose of waste in the
water bodies such as beels as some people find it a cumbersome activity to wait for proper
channels such as dumping vehicles(GMC) and this is ultimately going to have a cascading effect.

Details of the author-Prakreetish Sarma. He is currently practising as an Advocate in Gauhati
High Court, completed graduation in law from National Law University and Judicial Academy
Assam. Interests are playing football, badminton, interested in cooking, discovering new places
and going for trekking and into social work.

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