Kannal Achuthan

Chennai: Solid waste management experts, from various parts of the country, presented innovative and feasible models of handling municipal garbage at a meeting here on Tuesday.

At an interaction organised by Kalakshetra Colony and Besant Nagar residents, the experts discussed case studies on managing waste. Jyoti Mhapsekar of Stree Mukti Sanghatana, an organisation based in Thane, Maharashtra, spoke of the initiative to organise rag-pickers into cooperatives, which not only collect source-segregated garbage but also run biogas plants.

Its success encouraged the Maharashtra government to introduce a progressive piece of legislation that legitimises the role of rag-pickers in waste management.

Sharad Kale, Professor of Soil Sciences in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, said that biogas reactors functioned with segregated waste. The biogas can be used as a fuel for heating or to generate electricity.

He has designed the ‘Nisargruna’ biogas plant, which is used in several large institutions in the country.

Shibu K. Nair from Thiruvananthapuram showcased zero waste strategies implemented in the tourism hotspot Kovalam in Kerala. Mr. Nair, who works with the non-governmental organisation Thanal, said the initiative had helped unemployed women find jobs in the use of waste as an important resource. The Kerala government now advocates such decentralised methods in its policy on solid waste management.

The experts interacted with members of the High Court appointed expert committee on solid waste. Committee member T.K. Ramkumar told The Hindu that the committee’s interim report has recommended composting and biomethanisation as waste management techniques.

He said the refuse-derived fuel plant proposed by the Chennai Corporation was unsound and not permissible in a marshland like Pallikaranai.

Environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said the Corporation’s proposal to treat mixed waste was flawed as it would mean that toxins could enter the composted manure and poison the soil where it is used.