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Mumbai’s engineering students write clean-up script

mumbai Updated: Sep 26, 2016 00:13 IST
Musab Qazi
Musab Qazi
Hindustan Times
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The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation turned to Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, to suggest measures to prevent fires at the Deonar dumping ground. (HT FILE PHOTO)

When the Deonar landfill caught fire in March this year, leading to a surge in air pollution and jeopardising the health of people living in the city's eastern suburbs, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) turned to Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) to suggest preventive measures.

While experts at the premier institute find ways to address the city's solid waste problem, students and researchers at other engineering colleges in the city, too, are engaged in similar projects. 

A year ago, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga, a technical institute in the city, inaugurated the Centre of Excellence in Complex and Non-linear Dynamic Systems (CoE-CNDS) with a funding of Rs5 crore from the World Bank. Among other projects, the centre is working to find technological solutions for better waste management in the city. 

According to Farooq Kazi, a professor at the institute, several PhD and MTech students are working at the centre, building electronic controls for waste management plants. They are working on a simulated platform, which was donated to the institute by a private firm. 

"Waste management is not a part of the engineering curriculum. But this lab was built so that students work on practical projects. VJTI is involved in the Smart City project, of which the waste management is an integral aspect," said Kazi. 

The students are concerned about the impact of untreated waste on the city's environment. Earlier this year, a group of civil engineering students from Kalsekar Technical Campus (KTC) in Panvel, decided to study the scale of water pollution in Mithi river and its impact on the soil around the river, as part of their final-year project. They are planning to collect the samples of water and the soil around the river and test them for pollutants. 

"We have always wanted to research on Mithi river, given its impact on the environment. Our project will have a practical application [for the city]," said Ubaid Shaikh, a member of the team. 

Beyond academic research, students are also working on finding solutions to the city's waste problem. A research assistant at IIT-B, for instance, is focussing on leachate - the liquid waste - spilling from Deonar dump yard, for his PhD thesis. 

"Mumbai receives high rainfall, which produces liquid waste containing organic and inorganic matter, which contaminate underground water. As part of my research, I worked on how to treat leachate, so that it remains below the permissible level of contamination," he said.

Some waste management techniques

Automation

Several PhD and MTech students at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute are working on projects to build simulated automation systems for waste treatment plants. They are currently working on Delta V, an automation machine used for complex process.

Leachate Treatment

In the previous academic year, a research scholar from IIT-B worked on treating leachate - the liquid waste - spilling from the Deonar landfill and keeping its contamination level under control. For this, the researcher had collected several samples of leachate from Deonar which were tested it in the laboratory

Mithi Pollution

A group of students from Kalsekar Technical Campus (KTC), Panvel, are set out to find the level of pollutants in Mithi river and the soil around it. They will be estimating its impact on the environment.

Mumbai’s waste problem

9,500 Metric tonnes of waste the city generates in a day

The waste is dumped at three over-burdened dumping grounds at Deonar, Mulund and Kanjurmarg

The BMC treats the waste only at the Kanjurmarg landfill