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Fate of dairy farms in limbo as Delhi High court weighs health concerns

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The future of hundreds of dairy farms in Ghazipur and Bhalswa, where two of the city’s three landfill sites are located, hangs in the balance with the Delhi High Court scrutinising their compliance with legal and environmental standards.

Late last month, the court had remarked that there was a need to shift Ghazipur and Bhalswa dairies, where most of the dairy farmers sell milk directly to consumers, to an alternate location within the city or on the outskirts due to their proximity to the sanitary landfills that cause “undeniable adverse effect on public health”.

On May 27, the court came down heavily on the Delhi government’s animal husbandry unit, observing that there was a “lack of will” in State functionaries to stop the “rampant violation of laws” by dairy owners.

The court’s remarks came in response to a petition by Sunayana Sibal, an animal welfare advocate, highlighting the poor state of affairs in Delhi’s nine dairy colonies — Ghazipur, Shahbad Dairy (Rohini), Jharoda, Bhalswa, Masoodpur, Goela, Madanpur Khadar, Nangli Sakrawati, and Kakrola.

The Delhi government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi have sought an opportunity from the court until June 30 to take steps to regularise the dairies and ensure that they are in compliance with the law. The court will hear the case again on July 12.

‘Shift the landfill’

Vijay, a dairy farmer at Ghazipur, the idea of relocating dairy farms was unreasonable. “Either they should relocate the garbage mound, since it is spilling over, or turn it into a green hill. The suggestion that dairy farms should be relocated is unreasonable. Where were these people when this dairy colony was established?”

Mr. Vijay added that the farms are already burdened by losses due to lower milk production this summer owing to the intense heatwave.

He said that the dairy farm was established in 1976 when the Ghazipur landfill site did not exist. “If relocation is necessary, it should apply to every dairy farm, not just to us,” he added.

Mukesh, another dairy farmer, said the Ghazipur landfill site should either be relocated or transformed into a green hill, such as the Indraprastha Park in central Delhi.

Ms. Sibal said the courts have reiterated the need to relocate the dairy colonies in Ghazipur and Bhalswa since 2002. In an earlier hearing, she showed the Bench photographs of the Bhalswa dairy colony, which showed cattle grazing at the base of the sanitary landfill.

The petitioner said proper waste management practices had not been followed and criticised the lack of segregation and proper disposal of garbage.

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