The government is likely to face an uphill task with the remediation of legacy waste (old waste) in view of lack of data on the quantum of old municipal solid waste that has piled up at the Brahmapuram dumping yard over the years.
A proposal drafted by the regional office of the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) recommending a drone study to assess the exact volume of legacy waste is yet to be implemented by the Kochi Corporation. A total sanitation survey is a pre-requisite before clearing legacy waste, as per the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, said PCB officials.
The total station survey using drones is done to ascertain the exact volume of waste at the site. The PCB had also suggested a precursor study of the history of the site and compositional analysis of waste.
Site environment parameters such as baseline study of heavy metals in surface and subsurface soil and water, rainfall, soil type, surface hydrology, topography, and wind direction should be done before and after biomining, according to the board. The remediation process may face further hurdles as studies done by the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) on Solid Waste Management and the PCB had revealed that non-biodegradable waste continued to be dumped over heaps of legacy waste at Brahmapuram in violation of the prescribed guidelines.
The findings came to light following site inspections and inferences gathered from data on the quantity of mixed waste brought to the site and transferred from there to agencies outside for recycling. The figures were taken and analysed for the months of May, June, and July last year.
According to records submitted by the corporation, only 37.53 metric tonnes of 3,889.18 metric tonnes of mixed waste were removed from the dumping yard in May for recycling, while the remaining 3,850.30 metric tonnes were deposited over heaps of legacy waste.
Inspections found that plastic waste alone was transferred to outside agencies after manual segregation by ragpickers at the site even though those responsible were collecting mixed waste, including plastic materials, from areas under the corporation on a regular basis. Ideally, the corporation should have set up facilities for safe storage and disposal of mixed waste at the site rather than dumping it over legacy waste, according to PCB officials.