This land could have remained a barren land or could be occupied by opportunists who could use this land for making money ignoring the environmental hazards.
But the scenario is different in the case of the land in Matuail landfill, the largest waste dumpsite in Dhaka.
With the abundance of Malabar spinach, radish, mustard, jute mallow, red spinach, amaranth, water spinach and different kind of plants, these look like mountain ranges with a green cover from a distance.
These agricultural projects have transformed a filthy and stinky place into an eye-catching place for the people of the surrounding areas which are not only helping the workers making money but also providing day labourers with an opportunity to generate income.
Locals said the environment of the area has improved a lot due to the greenery.
Sources said around 25 drivers and cleaners of DSCC have turned at least 13 waste dumping platforms into vegetable gardens.
Engineers of DSCC said the landfill was developed in 1995 on 50 acres and later in 2006 another 50 acres of land were added and it is due to reach its capacity very soon.
He also said, “I cultivate vegetables on two bighas land and earn Tk 2,000-2,500 a day from the sale. The cultivation process is very easy and cheap because we just plant a seed and don’t have to use any pesticide.”
“Every day, wholesalers came to the garden with vans and buy vegetables from us which are sold at nearby bazaars like Jatribari, Sonir Akhra, Rayerbag, and Matuail,” he also said.
He said that he along with his colleagues started the cultivation back in 2005 when they found that some plants grew naturally in the landfill as the organic waste turned into compost.
“At least eight people worked on my farm. I pay Tk 600-700 to the male and 300 to female workers,” he added.
Like Atiq, at least 25 drivers and cleaners are cultivating vegetables and 50 workers under them also earn money by working on the gardens.
During a recent visit to the landfill, the correspondent talked to some people who are earning their livelihoods from the vegetable garden.
Mohmmad Dalim, a farmer said that he has been earning money from vegetable farming in the site for the last three years.
He said, “We take care of vegetable plants like pumpkin, radish and Malabar spinach. I earn 600-700 for the work daily. Like me, around 12 workers work in a garden developed by a driver of the City Corporation.”
Md Shoaib, a resident of Matuail, said, “Even, one year ago, we did not use the approach road of the landfill because of heavy putrid stench. But now we don’t get the smell.”
Executive Engineer Sufi Ullah Siddiqui Bhuiyan said that they allow their workers to cultivate vegetables in the land because the lands remained fallow over the years.
He also said, “The landfill turned beautiful now and many people come to visit the site with family members. They ask for permission but we could not allow them all because it is a restricted site.”
“We will close the landfill in the old site very soon. We have a plan to turn it into an entertainment centre for people of the area,” he also said.
According to sources at the DSCC, the corporation doesn’t get any benefit from these projects. Sources also said the two city corporations of Dhaka have some more empty places in Dhaka which are occupied by a group of unscrupulous people.
Some experts have opined that if the two city corporations reclaim their occupied lands and rent those for a certain amount of money, their earnings can be increased and low-income people can be benefited as well by undertaking similar projects.