Vermicompost, the decomposition of organic garbage using earthworm, has long been propagated as the easiest way to treat organic garbage in a decentralised manner. However, RTI documents accessed by The Indian Express from the office of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) shows the two vermicompost plants in Pune, where substantial portion of organic waste is treated, have been non-functional for the last many days. Questions are now being raised about the efficiency of the vermicompost pits run in the housing societies where waste generated in the societies are to be treated.
Documents show that both the vermicompost pits are located in the Hadapsar area of the city. MPCB officials had inspected the bio-fertilizer plants in April this year. During the inspection, Board officials noted that both the sites were non-functional. While the pit at Ramtekdi Industrial estate was stopped following orders from the Bombay High Court, no specific reason was assigned for the closure of the other pit.
Standard operating procedures (SOP), Board officials noted, mention spraying of bacterial chemicals at the site, but foul odour was found to be emitting from the site. Also, the site had untreated garbage of over a month dumped at the sites. Around 5,000 tonnes of garbage were found accumulated at the site, which has the capacity of treating 200 tonnes of wet garbage per day. “Due to this, stray animals and birds were found loitering around the site,” the report noted.
At the Ramtekdi vermicompost site, Board officials noted that around 2,500 tonnes of wet garbage was found dumped. Also, stray animals and birds were found to be hovering around the area. The site in question has been the subject of a legal wrangle, with the Hadapsar Industries moving the High Court against the functioning of the site. The High Court had asked for a major revaluation of the site, but once the site was revalued, the contract of the company had lapsed. A senior civic official said fresh tenders had been floated for the same. “We hope the site will start operating in the next few months,” said the official.
Garbage disposal, civic officials said, faced a major hurdle in the face of opposition from various citizen groups, making the functioning of such plants difficult in many locations of the city. Another hurdle the civic body faces is that most technologies used to treat the garbage work only on segregated garbage. With Pune reporting only 50 per cent segregation, most plants are functioning below capacity. Vermicompost pits have been constructed in the housing societies, but their efficiency has been under the cloud. In many cases, the regular “turning” of the garbage is missing, defeating the very purpose of such pits.
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