What Ghazipur’s Trash-Mountain can Learn from Brazil’s Estructural Dump?

Brazil and India may have their differences, but they are surely similar on one point. While Brazil’s capital had the Estructural dump, India’s capital is home to the Ghazipur trash mountain.

With an increase in population and urbanization, the amount of garbage has also increased over the years across the world. The problem of garbage dumping has risen owing to the lack of infrastructure to meet the disposal needs in comparison to the rate of consumption. In other words, the rate of consumption and waste generation is much higher than the rate of disposal. This slowly paves the way for dumping grounds and trash mountains, the most unpleasant and gloomy sight to watch. It is from such a background that the Ghazipur trash mountain and Brasilia’s Estructural dump came into existence. Of the two, one has been closed and the other continues to grow. It is in light of the same that we need to understand how the story of one dump can help the other to make the environment a better place to live in.

The Estructural dump

The place was known for processing close to 1000 tonnes of garbage per day (BBC, 2018) and was considered the largest dumping site in Latin America. After over 60 years of providing a space for garbage accumulation, it was closed in 2018 by the Government of Brazil with the help of local scavengers.

The entire dump was to be transferred to a new landfill so as to close the open wound of the country. The local government’s idea was to employ local pickers at new centers in warehouses where the accumulated garbage can be segregated for recycling. The initiative primarily sought to provide monetary compensation to all the scavengers who worked in the zone in cleaning up the mess in better working conditions. Though the scavengers of the region were not too happy about the move, considering relocation of the dump would reduce their earnings from scavenging on the garbage, it eventually happened. The entire process provided a source of livelihood for the scavengers in achieving a goal that brings overall benefits to society. By the fag end of the clean-up, many of the scavengers were even given government jobs which unfortunately had generated lesser income for them compared to the scavenging (Boadle, 2018). This move was again not welcomed by the scavengers.

Figure 1: The Estructural dump at Brasilia, Brazil

Source: (BBC, 2018)

Despite criticism faced by the local communities, this is a commendable initiative by the Government toward addressing environmental issues. With Brazil known for its Amazon forest and destruction of the same, this is a laudable effort. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that countries should also respect and take into account the concerns of the public. Brasilia is one example where a policy initiative brought a good result alongside making a few members of the community unhappy. For the reason that members are unhappy, it should not be the sole ground for not taking action toward environmental conservation and protection. In fact, after the closure of the dumping ground, the country has also taken initiatives toward sustainable waste management, making it a role model for other cities to adopt their strategies (Kopsch, 2019). 

India is no exception in taking inspiration from Brazil in clearing dumps, especially the one growing in the heart of the city of Delhi, the Ghazipur trash mountain.

Ghazipur trash-mountain

The Ghazipur center was opened for garbage collection in 1984 and ever since then it has only grown and is probably now as high as the Taj Mahal in Agra. It is called a mountain for it resembles one to a large extent. No tourist can be blamed if they happen to go back to their hometowns and tell their friends and family about the presence of a mountain in a place like Delhi.

It reached its full capacity in 2002 and it ought to have been closed then. Sadly, it has been two decades since then. In addition to the air pollution that looms over the city, the garbage mountain has bestowed Delhi with the title, ‘one of the most polluted capitals’. The garbage produces large amounts of methane and has caught fire on many occasions, the most recent being the three fires that broke out in a month from March to April 2022.

Figure 2: Ghazipur trash mountain on fire

Source: (Dhar, 2022)

One thing Ghazipur can learn from Brazil is to take environmental action to protect and conserve the biodiversity of the planet and the natural resources. There are going to be groups of communities dependent on the trash mountain for their livelihoods. But that cannot be a ground to not clear the dump. Just like how trash accumulated over 60-odd years was cleared in Brazil by involving local residents, the same has to be implemented in Delhi using the support of the government and the public. The cleaning efforts can happen in a phased manner. The efforts should also ensure the locals are provided an alternative source of livelihood with sufficient monetary compensation. With these initiatives, environmental concerns of waste dumping among others can be tackled paving the way for a cleaner and greener Delhi.


BBC. (2018, January 20). Huge Brazil rubbish dump closes after six decades. BBC. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42757085

Boadle, A. (2018, January 19). Brasilia closes Latin America’s largest rubbish dump. Reuters. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-dump-idUSKBN1F82VI

Dhar, A. (2022, April 20). Another major fire breaks out at Delhi’s Ghazipur dumping yard; eight fire tenders at spot. Hindustan Times. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/another-major-fire-breaks-out-at-delhi-s-ghazipur-dumping-yard-eight-fire-tenders-at-spot-101650458592565.html

France-Presse, A. (2019, June 4). Garbage mountain at Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill to rise higher than Taj Mahal by 2020. Hindustan Times. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/garbage-mountain-at-delhi-s-ghazipur-landfill-to-rise-higher-than-taj-mahal-by-2020/story-RC0kwZdUmdHHfDs3rJGngI.html

Kopsch, B. (2019, November 13). Cleaning up Brazil′s waste management | Global Ideas. DW. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.dw.com/en/cleaning-up-brazils-waste-management/a-51136452

Reeves, P. (2018, January 20). As A Massive Garbage Dump Closes In Brazil, Trash-Pickers Face An Uncertain Future. NPR. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/01/20/579105943/as-a-massive-garbage-dump-closes-in-brazil-trash-pickers-face-an-uncertain-futur

Published by LakesOfIndia

Lakes of India is an E.F.I initiative aimed at sensitizing the larger public on freshwater habitats across the country. A blog platform where one can read about lakes across India. You can become a guest blogger to write about a lake in your hometown and initiate an action to protect that lake.

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