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WIN-WIN DEAL FOR SAFE WASTE DISPOSAL

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Golden Rock Railway Workshop in Tiruchi ties up with cement factory for disposal of polymeric waste

The Southern Railway Workshop, Golden Rock, has adopted a scientific method to dispose tonnes of zero-value non-hazardous polymeric waste accumulated over the years on its sprawling campus in Tiruchi.

The 85-year-old workshop entered into an agreement with UltraTech Cement Limited at Ariyalur district last year, paving the way for the safe disposal of non-hazardous waste to the cement unit for use in its kilns as an alternative fuel in what is being seen as a “win-win situation” for both.

Huge relief

The decision has come as a huge relief to the workshop which, until last year, virtually had no clue as to how to dispose the non-hazardous waste that kept piling over the last two decades, posing a huge environmental and safety hazard.

Engaged in POH (periodic overhaul) of 1,200 broad gauge passenger coaches and 120 broad gauge diesel locomotives, the British-built workshop has also become a manufacturing unit, rolling out new container wagons for the Railways and the Container Corporation of India. It produces steam locomotives for the heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) and also overhauls them.

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Piling materials

While ferrous and non-ferrous waste generated in the workshop, spread over 200 acres, were being sold through auction every year, it was the piled up zero-value non-hazardous waste in the form of cushions, artificial leather, seat covers, rubber belts and other rubber products that posed a fire as well as an environmental hazard, said chief workshop manager P.N. Jha.

A solution finally emerged last year when the workshop came to know that non-hazardous waste could be disposed of scientifically by way of “co-processing” at cement plants. Negotiations with UltraTech Cement fructified, leading to an agreement between the two to dispose of 5,000 metric tonnes of accumulated zero-value non-hazardous waste, said Mr. Jha.

Since January, when the first load of waste was dispatched to the cement unit, around 1,500 metric tonnes of accumulated waste has so far been safely transported to the unit, Mr. Jha said. The remaining accumulated waste would be sent in the coming months. The cement unit utilises the waste after shredding as an alternative fuel in its kilns. The waste in the kilns is burnt at a very high temperature of nearly 1,400 centigrade, which would leave behind no residue, he said.

TNPCB nod

The workshop has also obtained the clearance from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for the disposal mechanism. The cement factory for its part had received clearance from the Central Pollution Control Board for co-processing, the official said.

With nearly 25% to 30% of accumulated waste being cleared so far, the workshop has been successful in reclaiming nearly 50,000 sq. ft. area where it has currently embarked on a green drive, planting saplings of various species.

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