Not a single meeting of Tiruchi Corporation Council in the past several years has concluded without a discussion on the ill-effects of Ariyamangalam dump yard.
The dump, set up around seven decades ago, poses a big challenge to the civic body, which faces the wrath of residents of Ariyamangalam and Kattur due to the health hazard posed by its mounting garbage mounds.
The corporation mooted several ideas and took various steps in the recent past to clear the garbage but with limited success. Despite inter-departmental discussions, innumerable protests and spot studies by experts, environmentalists and senior officials of Central and State governments, the dump yard continues to haunt the residents of Ariyamangalam, Kattur and surrounding areas.
However, there is a ray of hope with the civic body embarking on an ambitious project to clear the entire garbage within two to three years through bio-mining method.
Questions are still raised on whether the civic body will be able to solve the decades-old issue within three years. But the Corporation, bolstered with funding under Smart City Mission, believes that it will successfully reclaim the entire 47.70 acres of land by clearing the mounds of garbage this time.
Reason is simple. The civic body never paid for clearing garbage. But it will pay for lifting garbage from the dump yard. The two-pronged strategy is that while preventing further dumping of waste, the civic body will clear the accumulated garbage by various means.
As per a study undertaken by a consultant in 2016, the dump has an estimated pile up of 7,21,000 tonnes of waste. It gets 380 tonnes a day of garbage daily from different parts of the city. After several rounds of deliberations, the civic body came out with a plan to clear the entire garbage through bio-mining at a cost of ₹49 crore. Excavation and transportation of fresh waste as well as old waste from dumpsite, creation of space for setting of plant and waste stabilisation and drying, waste segregation and refinement and market development for material reuse are major components of the project.
A Chennai-based private company, which bagged the contract, has begun work by mobilising men and materials at the dump. The immediate task is to release the methane gas formed in the depths of accumulated mounds over years. They excavate the garbage and build garbage heaps so as to release the methane.
The company will slowly biomine the entire volume of garbage by setting up a massive plant. It will segregate degradable and non-degradable waste. While the degradable waste will be put into the process of producing organic manure, the non-degradable waste, including various types of plastics and tyres, will be transported to the cement factories to be used as fuel for cement kilns. The combustible reclaimed waste will be sold to cement plants. The debris will be transported to form roads or fill up low-lying areas. Plastics and other non-recyclable waste depending on the quality can be used to make value added products such as pavements, railway sleepers, lamp posts, fencing posts and others.
The terms and conditions of the contract say the company has to clear 2.5 lakh tonne a year. It means that it should process and clear 20,000 tonne of garbage per month.