Huge ‘paribartan’ need of the hour; garbage processing by GMC the only solution
Guwahati produces 500 MT of garbage every day. To manage the entire city’s garbage, GMC has 31 NGOs – one for each ward - for primary garbage collection. The collected garbage goes into bins and GMC has 215 bins across the city. To transport the collected garbage from the bins, GMC has 23 compactors, 25 dumpers, 15 JCBs and 8 robots. But where does the garbage go to? GMC, since a long time, has been bragging that it will convert the garbage into manure or other energies like electricity or bio gas. What is the status of such projects? Are the garbage dumping grounds affecting the environment? In the run up to a smart city, why cannot the garbage be processed to produce energy? G Plus checks what happens to the 500 MT garbage produced by the city every day.
At present all the collected garbage gets transported to Boragaon processing and disposal plant. According to GMC officials, there is a compost plant with the capacity of processing 50 MT per shift, were 100 MT garbage gets processed. After processing 100 MT garbage the plant produces approximately 10 tons of organic manure which is sold. GMC was planning to upgrade the plant to the capacity of processing 250 MT of garbage which will then produce 20 tons of organic manure. The plant was also expected to have a plastic recycling unit and would also produce red brick. But the plan still remains a plan. Similarly, other garbage recycling plans also look far from completion. G Plus looks into why the projects are still stalled.
The very recent plan which the GMC was working on was setting up two biomethanation plants at Paltan Bazaar and Bhootnath. One plant will be of the capacity 5 MTPD and the other will be 10 MTPD. The plants will process organic wastes and produce methane gas which will be stored and further used to generate electricity. The 5 MTPD plant will produce 30 KWH of electricity which can be used to light up 250 bulbs and the 10 MTPD plant will generate 60 KWH of electricity which will be able to light up 500 bulbs. The expression of interest (EOI) was floated and various companies were showing their interest to work for setting up the plant. GMC was confident that the work will start by end of January 2015. The approximate estimated budget per plant was Rs 1.5 crores. The plants did not start working. But why are the processing units not being upgraded and the new plants not getting started?
The Bora Gaon processing unit
The Bora Gaon dumping ground is also under the scanner of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) as it is assumed that the ground is a cause of concern for the Deepor Beel habitation. The NGT has asked the Assam government to submit a status report on the present condition of Deepor Beel, a large natural wetland, which is a Ramsar site and an important destination of migratory birds. The tribunal also asked the State Chief Secretary to submit a detailed report on whether any municipal solid waste was being dumped into Deepor Beel and if any construction activities were going on in and around the wetland. It also asked if the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation were following the rules.
In a move to replace the Bora Gaon dumping ground, the GMC was allotted some 20 bighas of land at Bonda near Chandrapur. But highly placed sources in GMC said that the Bonda land will be difficult to be used as a dumping ground as communication is a problem. Also the local people there are protesting against the decision. So, the recycling projects in Bora Gaon will not be upgraded until it is clear that the site can be used as a dumping ground in the future. Also recently, expressing concern over the continued existence of the landfill site at Boragaon in the city, AGP MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita said that pollutants and waste materials from the site have become a menace for the ecologically-sensitive Deepor Beel. Raising the issue during the Zero Hour at the Legislative Assembly, Kalita said that all the wastes from across the city are dumped at the Bora Gaon site and this has led to spillage into the Deepor Beel thereby polluting the water-body. Replying to Kalita’s question, according to media reports, Minister for Guwahati Development Department Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We got 20 bighas of land in Bonda, which is much less than the existing 120 bighas at Boragaon. However, locals at Bonda opposed the idea of a dumping ground in their locality and so we could not take over the land. So you can well imagine our plight, stuck as we are between the NGT order and opposition of locals of Bonda.” He also said that a committee consisting of experts from IIT Guwahati has suggested certain remedial measures for the site at Boragaon, including tree plantation but the NGT’s order had made it imperative to shift the location. He said that one solution could be to have four dumping grounds in the city, one catering to each of the four Legislative Assembly Constituencies of Guwahati. There can always be suggestions coming in but the action plan will explain the efficiency of any body. Let’s see when this issue will be resolved.
Biomethanation dream remains a dream
The other two biomethanation plants expected to come up at Paltan Bazaar and Bhootnath have also not started due to financial crisis. A source in GMC said that since February 2015 GMC has not been getting any funds from the state government. The source said that GMC spends around Rs. 6.5 crores on salaries of its employees. It earns approximately Rs. 6 crores in revenues and gets Rs. 4 crores every month from the state government for development purposes. Since last year GMC has not got any money from the government and all its revenues are being used for salaries. Therefore all other projects have been halted.
The GMC source said that government should give priority to garbage processing units as it can always be helpful for the city development. The source said that out of 500 MT garbage produced in the city, all are initially dumped at the Bora Gaon dumping ground from where 100 MT is used to produce compost and 200 MT is segregated by the rag pickers. The remaining 200 MT remains dumped on the ground. So, on an everyday basis, if 200 MT of garbage remains dumped on the dumping ground and is not being used it is a huge loss of revenue. Also, talking about the rag pickers, the source said that in Bora Gaon area itself there are around 200 rag pickers and in entire Guwahati there are around 500 rag pickers who earn their livelihood by collecting waste materials and selling it to various scrap yards in the city. But the rag pickers are exposed to various diseases while working in the dumping ground. Because the dumping ground is getting chaotic with the everyday garbage deposition environmentalists and bodies like NGT are concerned about Deepor Beel. Everything can be controlled if the garbage is processed and used which is not happening. The source said that in the smart city proposal there is no mention about garbage processing and production of energy from it. So, the urban bodies and especially the recently formed development-fascinated government should think about the issue at an early date and bring some true ‘paribartan’ in this regard.
• Guwahati produces 500 MT garbage everyday
• The entire garbage is transported and dumped at the Bora Gaon garbage dumping ground
• Out of 500 MT, 100 MT garbage is used to produce compost
• 200 MT garbage gets segregated by around 500 rag pickers across Guwahati
• 200 MT garbage remains dumped at the dumping ground everyday and is not processed
• The rag pickers have to work in an environment that is hazardous to health
• The local MLA, environmentalists and bodies like NGT express concern over pollution of Deepor Beel caused by spillage from the Bora Gaon dumping ground
• Sources in GMC say all issues can be resolved if the entire garbage is processed
• Financial crisis further mars GMC garbage processing plans