About 70 per cent of the treated waste could be used for generating power, say experts

After the massive fire earlier this week at the Ariyamangalam garbage dump from where thick clouds of smoke which caused respiratory and visibility problems to residents in surrounding localities, the Tiruchirapalli City Corporation is toying with a proposal to levy special charges from waste generators, barring households, to meet the cost of solid waste management.

After a series of discussions with waste management experts representing Ikos India and InfraEn Consulting Private Limited over the last two days, the corporation officials on Friday sought to draw a roadmap for scientific capping of the garbage dump, and create a permanent mechanism for managing garbage. The local body intends to produce manure and generate energy after segregating waste under four categories: plastic, paper, RDF (Refuse-Derived Fuel), and wet waste, similar to the methodology adopted by Warangal Municipal Corporation in Andhra Pradesh.

Experts from Ikos India made a video presentation on the methodology of industrial and domestic waste recovered at Normandy and Pas-de-Calais in France to Mayor A. Jaya and corporation officials. They explained how up to 70 per cent of the treated waste matter could be converted into energy by deploying innovative and patented technologies.

The corporation officials were impressed by the model of landfill sites displayed by the experts.

The model featured huge pits of five-metre depth surrounded by 10 metre walls, each holding up to 50,000 tonnes of garbage from where combustible gas could be routed to a gas turbine power plant.

Pending execution of long-term plans, the expert teams recommended removal and storage of wastes in small sizes, surveillance at the site for preventing manmade causes for fire, and dumping of new wastes in a different place. If a different site was not practical, an area could be earmarked separately inside the existing dump.

The existing garbage would be compacted to a mound formation and green-topped over an impervious layering. Landfills would be built on the retrievable land to the extent of 20 acres, Corporation Commissioner V.P. Dhandapani said. Impervious layering would be provided to the landfills as well to prevent percolation of polluting particles wet wastes into the ground.

Only after proper segregation of the wastes can the corporation generate revenue from the garbage.

A transfer station would be established on a five-acre area in the dump, he said and added that in the long run, a bio-reactor landfill would be established at a suitable location to process 500 tonnes of garbage a day for a lasting solution. The same site would be used for the waste-to-energy/waste-to-RDF project, Mr. Dhandapani added.

Cause of fire

Ruling out mischief by rag-pickers, he said the fire at the dump was caused by methane gas. The corporation, he said, would conduct medical camps to treat affected people in the surroundings of the Ariyamangalam.

Citing the environmental hazards the people residing in five wards surrounding the garbage dump were being exposed to, the city unit Secretary of Communist Party of India K. Suresh criticised the corporation for failing to implement the proposal for scientific closure of the dump since 2010-11.

At the dump with over 12 lakh tonnes of accumulated waste, 400 tonnes of garbage got added every day, precipitating the groundwater pollution.

The garbage at the dump must be relocated elsewhere and the Ariyamangalam site must be considered for the proposed integrated bus stand, Mr. Suresh said.