Road’s life doubles, remains pothole-free and withstands heavy load
The path for using plastic waste in the formation of roads all over the country has been cleared with the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) releasing the code, IRC: SP: 98: 2013, for application of the ‘plastic road technology,’ evolved by the Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) here.
The IRC has come out with the code on the basis of studies and investigations carried out in several regions of the country on the advantages of using plastic waste in laying roads. The gains of the technology include higher resistance to deformation and water-induced damages; increased durability; improved fatigue life, stability and strength; saving of bitumen and gainful disposal of plastic. The technology, developed in 2001 and patented in June 2002, is widely used in the State.
The first ‘plastic road’ was laid in Kovilpatti of Tuticorin district on October 4, 2002. From then on, the technology has been going places. Jamshedpur now calls itself a ‘plastic nuisance free city,’ thanks to its plastic roads. The Secretary, Union Ministry of Rural Development, has directed the officials of the department to take this technology to all the States on a large scale, according to a communication sent to the college by I.K. Pateria, Director (technical), National Rural Roads Development Agency. Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in adopting the technology. Rural roads to a distance of 1002 km were laid during 2012-13 and the State government has planned to cover 1,000 km in 2013-14. It has sanctioned Rs. 1,000 crore for the purpose.
Explaining the advantages of using waste plastic, R. Vasudevan, Dean, TCE, who led the team that developed the technology, says the strength and life of the road doubles and it remains pothole-free, besides withstanding heavy load. Bitumen consumption is brought down considerably.
The State government has been encouraging the application of plastic road technology in a big way by allocating Rs. 80 lakh from the Environment Protection Fund for women self-help groups to run collection and processing centres for waste plastic. The centres have come up at 20 places in 16 districts. These centres are involved in collection, segregation and processing of waste plastic before it is shredded. The shredded plastic is packed and sold for laying roads. Dr. Vasudevan is of the view that plastic waste available in the country will not be sufficient if the government decides to convert all rural roads into plastic roads. “We may have to import plastic waste to lay roads.”