Pune Mirror: Vijay Chauhan: Pune: Sunday, April 16, 2017.
Nagarik Chetana Manch runs tests on seven depots, seeks to shut them down as the compost is hazardous
All thirteen solid waste processing plants run by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are in the red after the Nagari Chetana Manch claimed that none of them are compliant with the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules, 2000 and Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016.
A petition has been filed with the Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against PMC, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and others, demanding that all the depots be shut down.
In support of the claim, petitioner Major General S C N Jatar, (Retd), president of Nagarik Chetana Manch, submitted a copy of the test conducted in a private laboratory, that indicates that the procedures are not as per the parameters and that the compost is hazardous to plants as well as humans, due to its high ratio of poisonous substances such as chromium and mercury.
The petition also claims that PMC’s claim of 24-hour microorganism- based compost is scientifically impossible, which clearly indicates that the authorities failed to carried out chemical analysis of the compost independently to check whether it meets with the specifications in the Fertiliser Control Order of 1985.
Jatar claimed that he sought information under the Right to Information act (RTI) from MPCB, pertaining to the design, supply, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance of the plants set up in Pune city. He received the information from MPCB, saying it has authorised 13 such plants in March 2016. However, MPCB does not have information on seven of them.
Pulling up MPCB, Jatar’s petition claimed that the pollution control board had failed to monitor odour nuisance and also hadn’t checked the storage area for incoming MSW as specified in the rules, despite Jatar having brought the matter to its notice over five months ago. There have also been complaints from citizens over the matter.
Samples obtained from the plant installed at Shanipar in Prabhag 50 were tested in a private laboratory on October 1, 2015 mainly for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Copies of analysis carried out by a contractor through the PMC were also obtained. Out of samples from seven plants, only one from the plant at Tarachand Hospital fulfilled the standards.
Speaking to Mirror, Jatar said, “We submitted two expert opinions about compost generated within 24 hours. Both stated that it is biologically impossible to make compost in 24 hours as the process of mineralisation and stabilisation takes a minimum of 30 days and up to nine months for well-matured compost. They added that using such compost without full stabilisation may have detrimental consequences on soil and result in imbalance in the microbial population and in roots.
“Citizens have agitated earlier, due to which at least four plants have already been closed down. We have also requested the state urban development department and commissioner of agriculture to immediately constitute a state-level advisory body as specified in Rule 23 of the SWM Rules 2016,” Jatar added.
Meanwhile, the MPCB on Thursday submitted an affidavit over the objections and admitted that the compost is not as per specifications. MPCB officials also said that they have issued a showcause notice to PMC in this regard. J A Salunke, sub-divisional officer of MPCB said, “It is true that the compost is not up to the mark, but it is aprocess and will take some time.”
Officials from PMC’s solid waste department dodged the urgency of the matter, but admitted that the technology being used at the plants is not infallible.
Suresh Jagtap, joint commissioner and in-charge of the department, said, “We received a show cause notice from MPCB which mentions that there is low content of potassium in the compost. We have started the process to the potassium and will submit a report to NGT.”
Sunil Gawde, assistant municipal commissioner of the department, said, “We are trying to resolve the source of heavy metal which is getting mixed with the organic waste. We are suspicious that the vehicles that collect wet garbage may have responsible for this contamination. We are conducting a meeting with MPCB and ragpickers to resolve the issue.”
“There are some guidelines to be followed while using this compost. It needs to be mixed with the soil properly and can be used in gardens and nurseries, apart from food plants. The technology is yet to evolve fully. Our main aim is to dispose of the waste in the city and we are in the experimental stage,” he added.