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Ludhiana Smart City: On the road to smart waste managment

Shena Aggarwal IAS, Commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and CEO, Ludhiana Smart City

Shena Aggarwal IAS, Commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and CEO, Ludhiana Smart City Limited spoke to Mrigank Warrier, Associate Editor, Clean India Journal about the status of various waste management projects, plans to upgrade the waste collection system, and the technology the city is looking to procure for future needs.

The bioremediation of Jamalpur dump site project recently took off. What is the progress made?

We have given out the tender for the bioremediation of five lakh metric tonnes of legacy waste. As of now, more than one lakh metric tonnes have been segregated. Our contractor is using vibratory trowels, not rotatory trowels. Further, he has to dispose of bio-soil and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) as per norms.

I believe this is Phase I of the project. What about Phase II?

For Phase II, the tender has already been called.

What is the zero landfill technology that is being used in this process?

By zero landfill, we mean that every part of this legacy waste should be utilised somewhere; as far as possible, nothing should go back into the landfill. Only a very small fraction of the legacy waste — 5%, which is inert waste — will be sent to a sanitary landfill. Other than that, everything will be disposed of in a scientific manner.

So the Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste will go to construction sites and be reutilised along with the construction material, the bio soil will go to fertiliser industries and the RDF will go to the cement industries or elsewhere, according to the guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) or the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

What is the deadline for this project to be completed?

The target time as per the tender conditions was 22 months, but we hope that it will be completed within a year.

Tell us about the status of the C&D waste management project.

That is still in the pipeline. It will take some time to be completed and get operationalised. Until then, we are planning to install smaller machines which are an easier and quicker option to recyle C & D waste and reuse it as part of construction material.

Who is executing this? The municipal corporation or an external contractor?

Right now, the municipal corporation is looking after this but ultimately, the project will be outsourced to a contractor.

Are there any plans to monetise this project?

The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has its own hot mix plant. We have our own construction activities in which we will reuse this material.

Please tell us about Ludhiana’s carcass utilisation plant.

It will utilise all the dead animal carcasses; the skin will be peeled off separately and the bones will be crushed. This is the first of its kind in North India, and it is in the trial stage as of now. The capacity of the plant is approximately 150 animals per day.

How is horticulture waste being processed?

We are following a desegregated model. We have bought shredders for the horticulture waste, and are making compost pits; not individual compost pits in every park because that becomes unviable in such a big city. All the horticulture waste is brought to pits at a few locations where it is shredded and converted to compost. Hopefully, we will soon be in a position to make enough compost to be used for horticulture in our own parks.

I’ve also been reading about how the Municipal Corporation has been following up with bulk waste generators to deal with their own waste. What mandate do you have for the organic waste generated by such entities?

Composting through pits will take a lot of time. Composting machines are quicker; they help dispose of organic waste quickly by conversion to compost. Most big hotels and resorts have their own lawn or garden areas where it can be used.

Is there any mandate from the Municipal Corporation about using a natural composting process versus an accelerated composting process?

No, not in particular. But usually, because of practical and space constraints, we recommend both options and they can choose as per their convenience.

When it comes to plastic waste management, is there anything in the pipeline?

We have a vast network of garbage collectors and rag pickers working in the informal sector; we have identified them and issued them identity cards. They act as our implementers and collect most of the reusable plastic, segregate it and bring it to the recycling centre. The rest of the plastic is being collected in our material recovery centres.

As of now, we don’t have the processing ability, but we are trying to get plastic shredders to shred the collected plastic for use in construction material and roads, to reduce the quantity of construction material required.

Does Ludhiana have a door-to-door waste collection model?

We cover more than 95% of the households in Ludhiana. People in the informal sector who are working on behalf of the municipal corporation collect waste and bring it to our transfer stations. We are currently mapping these 1,800 door-to-door waste collectors, bringing them under a single umbrella and want to have an MoU with them so that the work they do is recognised and formalised.

What happens to the household waste once it is brought to the transfer stations?

We have compactors in about 10 of our centres, and in the remaining, we have tendered out compactors. Hopefully, they should be in place within the next three or four months. The uncompacted waste goes to a dump site for now; we are in the process of having a processing unit installed; we should be tendering that out soon.

How are you ensuring segregation of waste?

We have motivators and community facilitators who are working door-to-door to create awareness about the need for segregation; we are able to achieve 40-50% segregation at that level. The second level of segregation is done by the waste collectors; some of this is done at the doorstep, where different streams are thrown into separate compartments in the waste collection vehicles. The third level of segregation is done when they bring it to the transfer stations. We have achieved almost 80-90% segregation. When we try to obtain bio CNG out of this waste, we will go for a final level of segregation.

Are waste collections vehicles being tracked in any way?

All the vehicles are already equipped with GPS. We are in the process of mapping their routes through GPS tagging, and also rationalising them.

What other waste management technologies are you planning to introduce?

A bio CNG plant and a waste-to-energy plant are still in the pipeline. We want to keep it as a technology-open model, so that bidders can propose the latest technology.

Are you looking at acquiring the technology outright? Or are you looking at a PPP model?

We are looking at a DBOOT (Design, Build, Own, Operate and Transfer) model.

If public toilets are not maintained well, people will not use them. What is the municipal corporation doing to ensure this?

There was a gap in this regard initially when I joined as Ludhiana Municipal Commissioner. We have now handed over their maintenance to a private company, which is collecting money on pay-per-use basis and is then maintaining the toilets as well. Further, we have deputed our officers who do random checks every month; reports are generated accordingly.

What role does the command and control centre play in monitoring?

The command and control centre has helped us in finding out areas where there are heaps of garbage lying on the road; we get garbage alerts, send them to our team daily and our team rectifies those issues. This helps us ensure there are no garbage-vulnerable points and we are seeing a difference because of that.

How much of mechanised sweeping is being used for city cleaning?

We are using one mechanised sweeping machine already and are in the process of procuring more machines. Overall, mechanised sweeping is beneficial, especially for bigger or main roads. It helps reduce the manpower required, which can be redirected to other areas.

It has some limitations, which require manual follow up. Cleaning the sides of roads, or sweeping during the monsoons is difficult with mechanised sweepers.

Some cities have gone bin-free and some have reintroduced bins. What about Ludhiana?

We have installed our bins wherever required. Waste collectors have been assigned areas where they need to monitor and empty the bins.

Are there any other initiatives you’d like to tell us about?

We have installed some reverse vending machines in various parts of the city that will help reduce the plastic waste generated. We also have sanitary napkin incinerators.

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