BBMP struggles to kick-start mining landfills

Solid waste management: Mining landfills may be eco-friendly, but BBMP struggles to kick-start it

Civic body vows to restart project with fresh tenders; not a single kilo of legacy waste at closed landfills has been removed

Representative image. Credit: DH Photo/ Pushkar V

Six years after the BBMP’s assurance to the High Court of Karnataka that it will work on the "bio-mining" of landfills, the civic body is still struggling to implement the eco-friendly idea. 

Following the October 2014 statement to the high court, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) formed an expert committee to evaluate the proposal to clear the landfill. But it had failed to find the companies to implement the project based on the panel’s recommendations. The experts were also part of a Supreme Court-appointed committee on solid waste management. 

The civic body had planned to carry out bio-mining on legacy waste deposited in various corners of Bengaluru. 

While experts had suggested bio-mining at Mandur, Mavallipura, Lakshmipura and Bingipura landfills, the BBMP focused on Mandur where about 18.91 lakh tonnes of legacy waste is waiting to be mined since garbage dumping was stopped in December 2014. 

An expert from the solid waste roundtable said bio-mining was a scientific process to clear the waste deposited in a landfill by splitting the organic and non-organic waste and process what is recyclable. 

"The recyclables include plastic, metals, glass and similar substances. With the organic materials, we could have obtained methane gas, compost or refuse-derived fuel (RDF) used for various secondary purposes," the expert explained. 

N Ramakanth, a member of the SWM committee, said: "We have been after the idea for almost a decade. But till this day, not a single kilo of waste has been removed." 

Delay in disposing the waste deposited in the landfills has affected the livelihood of local people, Ramakanth added, noting that the landfill could have spoiled the groundwater in the area due to consistent seepage during the rains, while also causing air pollution and diseases.

"Several municipalities are successful at (biomining); the nearest example being Hosur in Tamil Nadu,” he said. 

Sources said three companies had initially submitted their bids and 17 more had given proposals to mine the landfills.

Doing our best: Palike 

Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, BBMP, said they had been doing their best to implement the project since 2016. “But the response for the tender is poor,” he said. 

“Some bidders are technically strong, but don’t have the financial stability to carry out biomining in a vast area we have. They don’t have the required revenue turnover as desired under the KTTP Act. We will soon be floating another tender,” Khan added.

D Randeep, BBMP Special Commissioner for SWM, said the tenders did not receive a good response since companies could not meet conditions pertaining to prior experiences, tenure of the project and financial issues. 

“Now, we are mulling to increase the period to 24 months, call for a pre-bid meet and listen to the bidder’s requirements,” he said. “If nothing works, we may have to identify an experienced agency and send a proposal to the government for approval, besides convincing the agency to accept government-approved rates.” 

Mandur, where Bengaluru last sent its waste in December 2014, has two huge amounts of waste weighing about 10 lakh tonnes each. BBMP engineers told DH that all recyclable waste will be extracted. 

“The compost can be subsequently utilised at the spot to set up a biodiversity park. The methane gas can be used to generate energy and the RDF be diverted to fill up the low-lying areas of the quarry pits and sent to the cement industries,” an engineer explained.

After visiting the landfills and analysing the materials, the experts told BBMP that about 30% of the waste — mud used to cover the waste after every layer of dumping — will be silt. Along with the organic material, it could be used as a soil conditioner.

A further 20%-25% will be plastic, glass and PET bottles that could be recycled and only about 20% of the materials at the landfills need to be scientifically disposed of, the experts added.

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