Use of saline water on mounds of garbage would reduce the genesis of bacteria that generates methane. This and other alternate solutions for waste segregation were discussed as part of a panel discussion on solid waste disposal in urban areas as part of Earth Day celebrations.
Stating that corporations don’t give enough importance to the solid waste management department, Rakesh Kumar, chief scientist, NEERI, said, “While sewerage operations and water departments have been merged, solid waste remains a singular entity when massive importance should have been given to this sector.”
Kumar added that most of the city’s garbage is taken to the Deonar dumping ground by 300-500 trucks everyday. “It is important to understand how to manage a dumping ground. Instead of dumping the garbage in the cells (divisions in the dumping ground), the trucks just dump them anywhere due to time constraints. This manner of dumping later caused problems for the fire brigade to reach the spot of fires,” he said.
Pointing out the wastage of potable water that was used to tackle the fires in the Deonar dumping ground, Kumar said that the BMC could have used water from the waste water treatment plant located near the dumping ground. He further said that the BMC instead dumped the non-potable water from the plant in the creek.
Elaborating on the scientific significance of using saline water on garbage mounds, Kumar said, “The saline water which was available in the creek can be sprinkled over the garbage mounds as it reduces methanogenesis, i.e., preventing the bacteria from generating methane. Salt is also hygroscopic by nature and can help to keep things moist. However, these measures are not implemented.”
Another panelist, Milind Sambhare, chairman, Indian Institute of Architects, Mumbai division, cited the example of Surat as a model. “Habits only change when there is an epidemic or calamity. Surat saw a plague and made waste segregation compulsory in the absence of another option. Now they are generating power from waste,” he said. He added that ALMs have to be given authority and civic authorities have to be held accountable.
Municipal commissioner of Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation E Ravindran discussed the ongoing implementation of the waste management system after the High Court put a ban on new constructions in April 2015.