Decentralised debris processing first proposed in MMR 21 years ago, but Mumbai yet to get construction waste recycling plant: CSE report

Aug 28, 2020 02:30 AM IST

Mumbai is yet to get its first operational debris recycling unit three years after the municipal corporation first proposed its inception, a report published on Wednesday by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, stated. Mumbai is among 40 cities across the country that is set to get the recycling units.

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HT Image

The report showed cities such as Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Indore, and Ahmedabad have at least one construction waste processing facility, operated either run by the civic body or on a public-private partnership.

The report has stated that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) was the first in India to come up with a decentralised solution for debris management in 1999 in Navi Mumbai, promoted by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (Yuva) and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) Ltd. The collaboration led to 1,500 tonnes of recycled construction and demolition (C&D) waste at Cidco Yuva Building Centre (CYBC). However, it was forced to shut down in 2012 after it failed to receive the policy or market support.

“The C&D initiative had originally started with Mumbai. But the scale of transformation that should have happened unfortunately broke down. While work may have started, it needs to be ramped up with a clear roadmap in terms of utilisation and resource recovery,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE.

In 2016, the Union environment ministry notified the C&D Waste Management Rules, which stipulated that permissions for new constructions or redevelopment will be granted only after local civic bodies develop their own plan to treat and recycle waste and private builders submit a waste management plan to the civic body and state pollution control board.

In February 2016, the Bombay high court (HC) imposed a two-year-old moratorium on new constructions in the city for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) failure to dispose C&D waste. The Supreme Court lifted the moratorium in March 2018.

By 2017, 53 cities were expected to set up recycling facilities to recover material from the waste but only 13 have done so till date. In 2017 itself, BMC had proposed recycling 95% of the city’s C&D waste. Of the 1,200 tonnes of C&D waste generated per day, BMC planned a 2.7 hectare recycling unit at Mulund to treat 1,140 tonnes of waste into sand, clay and bricks. Its construction was expected to commence in 2018 but never took off.

“Mumbai, with the richest urban local body, is still waiting to have an operational C&D waste recycling facility even after additional pressure from HC, which has issued multiple orders asking for urgent setting up of a C&D recycling facility in the city,” the CSE report highlighted.

BMC additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said tenders issued in 2017-18 did not get the right response from bidders. “On Tuesday, I took a detailed review and have directed that the tender be re-floated after amending some guidelines. We are hoping that fresh tenders will be uploaded over the next two weeks, and are expecting better participation from the private sector. We will act as a facilitator by providing an area to the contractor to set up a plant. If private land is available, then the plant can be set up by a private party, and we will pay a tipping fee for taking C&D waste to it.”

Kakani added that some sites had been earmarked at Deonar and Kanjur dumping grounds where C&D waste was being dumped.

“The quantity is not more than 300 tonnes per day this year during the lockdown as no major construction works were underway. Only demolition of dilapidated buildings has been the source of this waste,” he said.

Apart from starting a debris-on-call service (to identify illegal dumping of construction debris through complaints in 2015), BMC had also identified 14 sites (private areas) in MMR that were chosen to dump construction and demolition waste to ensure natural areas like river floodplains and mangrove patches were not used.

Chowdhury said Mumbai has a collection system but needs to establish a protocol to ensure segregation right from the construction site (into concrete, metal, plastic etc.), identify collection points, and then take it to a recycling plant to produce new material (paver blocks, tiles etc.).

“It needs to be brought back into construction to substitute naturally sourced material. This demands a circular economy that can turn C&D waste into a resource. The construction industry has to mandate that certain percentage of their building material needs to use recycled C&D waste,” she said.

Improper C&D waste collection direct source of air pollution

Heaps of concrete, bricks and metal waste from construction are choking water bodies, green areas and public spaces in cities

Toxic dust particles from the debris are polluting air, at a time when cities have to reduce their particulate pollution by 20-30% by 2024, under the ongoing National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

The Swachh Bharat Mission has recognised the need for C&D waste management. Ranking points for C&D waste management for Swachh Survekshan2021 have been doubled to 100 points, divided equally between management infrastructure and waste processing efficiency

The regions of Mumbai, Thane, Dombivli and other cities in the MMR have been witnessing a year-on-year increase in the concentration of particulate matter (PM) 10 (solid and liquid particles less than 10 microns suspended in the air) as a direct result of failure to control dust emissions from construction activities in MMR, transportation of C&D waste, condition of roads and ready-mix-concrete plants as major factors.


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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