Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat Garbage
Prioritize Waste Management, Convert plastic waste into RDF
While showing our concern for management of solid waste we have a very simple advise especially to our kids “Beta Dustbin use Karo” (use dustbin). Teachers stress on students, parents stress upon children, civic authorities request citizens to use trash-bins for disposing off solid waste.
Have we ever thought for a while where shall the dustbin or trash-bin go ? Dustbin is not going to swallow the solid waste. It has to go somewhere? Let us assume that all our trash generated in our colonies, towns and villages will be thrown in dustbins from August 1st 2018, where shall all this finally go?
When I ask people they say it will go to Dumping Site. How many dumping sites we have? Do we have enough land availability to create new garbage dumps or landfill sites? The lone landfill site in Srinagar at Saidpora Achan is almost overloaded with garbage. Every day around 350 to 450 metric tons of garbage is unloaded by vehicles of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) at Achan. For how many years we can afford to send such a huge quantity of waste to Achan or any other landfill site located in our major towns of Baramulla , Sopore , Anantnag , Shopian etc ?
I am of firm belief that after 2 to 3 years there will be no space left at Srinagar’s Achan to accommodate the solid waste. SMC has to identify at least 500 to 1000 hectares of land to create a new landfill site, but do we have such a huge chunk of land available in Srinagar or in its neighbouring districts like Budgam or Ganderbal ?
What is a Scientific Landfill site?
A scientific landfill site is a place that is developed for controlled disposal and scientific treatment of Solid Waste. These landfills should abide by the guidelines of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW Rules 2016). Scientific landfill site is an ideal waste management solution.
There is complete control of landfill gas, leachate, and limited access of vectors (e.g., rodents, flies, etc.) to the waste. As per the guidelines of MSW Rules 2016 only 20 % of the waste has to be transported to landfill site and rest of the waste is to be treated by in-house composting of bio degradable waste or by creating decentralized waste processing units. But in Srinagar city right now all the waste collected in Srinagar city is transported to Achan landfill site and this is happening from last several decades. The landfill site at Achan cannot even be called a landfill site. It is not case of only Achan but 80 % of landfill sites in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have similar issues. They are not scientific landfills as all the leachate (poisonous liquid oozing from garbage) goes into the water table and leads to several chronic ailments including cancer. In Achan and surrounding areas there are reports of such cases.
I can say with authority that Government won’t be able to acquire land for a new landfill site for Srinagar city. The reason is no land availability in Srinagar or adjoining districts. As per MSW Rules of 2016 the specifications for creating a new landfill site area : The area has to be 100 meter away from river, 200 meter from a pond, 200 meter from Highways, Habitations, Public Parks and water supply wells and 20 km away from Airports or Airbase. However in a special case, landfill site may be set up within a distance of 10 and 20 km away from the Airport/Airbase after obtaining no objection certificate from the civil aviation authority/ Air force as the case may be. These rules make it clear that Budgam is not a feasible place for landfill site as airport and air-force base is located in this district only. Ganderbal has a lot of wetland on its western side and towards east it has mountains where it is impossible to create a landfill site. We can’t transport waste to Ladakh ? So we have no other alternative other than to clear a space at Achan for next 10 to 20 years.
The way out ?
The only solution is to ensure reduction of waste and learning art of waste management. SMC or any other municipal committee or council must make sure that those houses who have some space should be asked to undertake in-house composting of organic / bio degradable waste. Organic waste consists of 70 % of the total waste generated in Srinagar city and other districts. I am not an expert on waste management but from last 3 years I have become very much conscious about this subject and my family is processing all the kitchen & organic waste inside our own garden. If decentralized segregation and processing of waste in colonies, residential houses is made mandatory, I believe we can reduce a lot of load on landfill sites. In addition to it the existing garbage cells at Srinagar’s Achan should be opened and Bio Remediation / Bio Mining of old waste should be undertaken to make fuel out of it also called RDF. If several bio remediation machines are installed within 2 to 3 years SMC can clear at least 20 hectares of land at Achan. The solid waste collected on daily basis is to be segregated at source so that effective material is available for making Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) which is used in cement kilns as an alternate source of fuel along with coal. There is great role of NGOs who can go to residential colonies and handhold people in ensuring proper segregation of waste. The waste is to be collected into two trash bins which will be then lifted on daily basis by specially designed vehicles and other local bodies. RDF can be manufactured from non bio degradable / plastic waste in major towns like Jammu, Udhampur , Kathua , Baramula , Sopore , Anantnag.
Government has already clubbed 3 to 4 smaller towns into clusters and hopefully we may be able to get the RDF from these clusters by end of this year if Government is really serious about it. Private enterprises and waste management companies who make RDF from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) have not shown much interest in J&K Urban Local Bodies bid process in-spite of the fact that three pre bid meetings took place in Srinagar and Delhi during last 1 year.
If there are very less bureaucratic hurdles I am sure these organizations will be ready to work here. Unless Government and municipal authorities do not coordinate efficiently with the private enterprises and companies involved in this whole work, municipal waste will not be managed in our state for years to come. This will lead our state towards a big disaster in coming years. I would suggest J&K Government particularly Governor N N Vohra, his advisors B B Vyas and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai to invite private enterprises to visit our various municipal landfill sites so that they access the ground situation. Unless private enterprises who are into RDF business feel secure and get cooperation from our Government, nobody will even participate in the bidding process.
The role of our Government agencies vis a vis waste management has been very discouraging from last several years and this attitude needs to be changed. Cement companies who are the ultimate users of RDF should also be taken into confidence. RDF should be manufactured on pilot basis locally and then it should be tested in cement kilns to see its efficiency. National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have already approved use of RDF in cement plants and we hope locally produced RDF will be the best source of fuel for our cement plants in future. Dustbin is not the solution for waste management, it is beyond that, let us learn this art soon for our own survival.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is a social activist and Founder of J&K RTI Movement