Efforts on to contain slurry leak from bio-gas plant

The Kochi Corporation authorities are fighting hard to contain a leak of slurry from a bio-gas plant at the Ernakulam Market. The leak, which was detected on Tuesday morning, has been temporarily plugged with sand bags. Its stench has forced the public to flee from the area, and the shops to close. A senior corporation official said health officials visited the spot where the bio-gas plant was set up by the corporation nearly three years ago.

Earlier in the day, the authorities unsuccessfully tried to wash the yellow, thick, foamy semi-liquid into the Ernakulam Market pond even as more and more slurry leaked from the plant. In a change of plan, the authorities then decided to collect the slurry and send it to Brahmapuram where the centralised waste disposal facility of the corporation is located.

N. H. Shameed, general secretary, Market Stall Owners' Association, said that no action was taken on Monday when the stall owners reported the malfunctioning of the plant to the corporation. On Tuesday morning, at least a square kilometre area around the market was affected by the stench emanating from the leak.

Tuesday being a holiday the market did not witness full-scale activity. However, the leak is likely to affect the market's business activities on Wednesday. Mr. Shameed said that none of the wayside vendors operated on Tuesday. He warned that the stall owners would protest against this continuing problem.

K.J. Sohan, chairman, Development Standing Committee, told The Hindu that all the bio-gas-cum-waste-management facilities established by the corporation about three years ago were malfunctioning and had not been put to proper use.

The bio-gas plants — one each at the Kaloor slaughter house, Pacchalam and Edappally PHC compound and two in Fort Kochi — had developed problems in the past. These bio-gas facilities were set up at a combined cost of nearly Rs.70 lakh. The bio-gas plant at Ravipuram had exploded last year due to an increase in gas pressure. Mr. Sohan said that a pulverising unit bought for the plant at the Ernakulam Market was now lying idle.

According to him, lack of expertise in the day-to-day management of the bio-gas plants was the main reason for these problems. For example, he said, that waste materials like banana stems should never be dumped into a bio-gas pit along with other refuse from the vegetable market.

Disposal of an overwhelming volume of sludge from these bio-gas plants is a challenge to the corporation, which had no logistics plan, he added.

If a bio-gas plant worked efficiently, sludge would be reduced to about just five per cent of the input. However, bio-gas plants in the city were turning out about 35 per cent sludge, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 6:19:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/Efforts-on-to-contain-slurry-leak-from-bio-gas-plant/article16033175.ece

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