Himachal using plastic waste to build roads along China border
SHIMLA: Almost a decade after it banned the use of non-biodegradable polythene bags amid environmental concerns, Himachal Pradesh is building and strengthening roads along the border with China by using plastic waste.
Under Project Deepak, the Border Roads Organisation is using the plastic waste stock to build a 7-km stretch between Keylong and Leh on the Manali-Leh highway. BRO officials said the waste will be used to build the highway beyond Darcha, a cold desert situated at an altitude of 11,020 feet above sea level.
Military engineers say that the use of the plastic provides more strength to roads that are usually built using hot mix bituminous material.
“We are using plastic waste in road construction in view of the heavy traffic on the Leh-Manali highway. The BRO is undertaking a pilot project on several roads. We want to assess whether it is viable for roads bearing heavy traffic load. Our roads are designed for military trucks that carry loads of up to 50 tonnes,” says BRO chief engineer Dinesh Tyagi.
Plastic waste will be used in building nine roads in the tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti and six roads in Kinnaur. Both districts share 280 km of border with China that is manned by the Indo Tibetan Border Police. Since Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur are snow-bound at present, road construction will begin in May there.
BRO officials recently called on state chief secretary Shrikant Baldi, seeking the government’s support for the supply of the plastic waste. The government has provided shredders to all public works divisions in the state to mix the plastic along with hot bitumen.
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The BRO has contacted the civic bodies of Kullu and Manali to make plastic waste available.
Scores of tourists visit Manali and leave behind tonnes of plastic waste. The town routinely generates about 40 tonnes of waste daily of which 25% is plastic. The waste is being sent for use in kilns at the cement plant in Barmana.
The state government used plastic waste for the first time in road construction in 2010 when Prem Kumar Dhumal was the chief minister. It built a 15-km stretch in Nurpur town of Kangra district as part of the plan to build 250 km or roads in six zones under the public works department.
On October 2, 2009, the Dhumal-led BJP government banned the production, storage, use, sale and distribution of all types of polythene bags made of non-biodegradable material. Yet, goods packaged in plastic made outside the state continue to find their way into Himachal Pradesh, generating the waste in the eco-fragile zone.