Using red earth to fill metro medians draws flak

Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), which claims it is striving for a carbon-neutral metro, is under fire for not addressing the negative carbon footprint left by filling of medians beneath the metro corridor with red earth and mud to landscape them.

This is a stark deviation from the eco-friendly method that was being adopted to landscape a bulk of medians on the M.G. Road metro corridor. In this, the medians were filled with dried leaves, plants, coconut fronds and branches of trees that were felled. They would otherwise have been burnt in residential areas, causing air pollution, or left abandoned on the road side, obstructing road users.

The metro agency had highlighted how this was a win-win situation for all stakeholders, while bringing about a carbon-neutral ecosystem in the greening drive.

“Each metro pillar, the 25-km Aluva-Pettah viaduct, metro stations and allied components have left tremendous carbon footprint, in the form of tens of thousands of tonnes of aggregate and other raw materials. Filling medians beneath the viaduct with lorry loads of mud will make the mass rapid transit project further carbon negative. Lessons have not been learned from the 2018 floods and the alarming rate at which climate change is occurring due to imbalance caused by unchecked quarrying of rocks, mud, etc.,” said C.N. Manoj of Pelican Biotech, which executed the median landscaping project on M.G. Road using plant and tree debris.

“We relied on almost 400 tonnes of such debris to fill medians on M.G. Road. This works out to almost the quantity of garbage that is transported from the city each day to the treatment plant at Brahmapuram. We were unable to clear plant/tree debris from residential colonies during the past many months since vacant medians have not been allotted to us to do landscaping using this method. This despite the fact that the CII entrusted us with the task of rejuvenating many median stretches in Hyderabad, including beneath the metro corridor there,” he said.

Mr. Manoj spoke of how carbon footprint increased by at least 100 kg when two trucks laden with earth commute from suburban locales to the city to fill a median, consuming approximately 12 litres of diesel. “One can imagine the situation if 2,000 trips are made. This is apart from the damage caused to the locales from where red earth is mined and the fall in ground water retention.”

Corpn. stance

Responding to the issue, Mayor M. Anilkumar said the Kochi Corporation is all for promoting eco-friendly initiatives, including for landscaping medians. The Health Standing Committee of the corporation has been asked to probe the possibility of filling medians with treated biodegradable garbage, he said.

Sources in KMRL said that a decision was taken to permit filling of medians with mud to prevent the possibility of untreated garbage being dumped in them.

There were also complaints of heaped plant and tree debris falling on roads from within the medians. Moreover, the sponsor is free to decide which material to choose, they said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 7:00:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/using-red-earth-to-fill-metro-medians-draws-flak/article34339952.ece

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