Bio-mining work to restore Sembakkam lake in Chennai

Portion of water body will be restored to original condition by removing garbage; project likely to be over in months

Published: 05th February 2018 02:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th February 2018 06:25 AM   |  A+A-

Bio-mining work to restore Sembakkam lake in full progress. The site had become a garbage dumping spot for several years before authorities stepped in | Sunish P Surendran

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The State government is currently carrying out a bio-mining work in the Sembakkam lake as part of measures to restore a portion of the lake to its original condition. The work, once completed, would put an end to the misery of residents living around the lake where garbage has been dumped for a few decades.

Following a petition from the Sembakkam Residents Welfare Association, represented by Rangarajan, the National Green Tribunal ordered the State government to stop dumping garbage at the spot.
Subsequently, the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply and the Anna University undertook a study and decided to go ahead with bio-mining of 4.5 acres of the land where garbage has been dumped all along, official sources told Express.

Bio-mining was first carried out in Kumbakonam, probably in a first-ever attempt to clear garbage to restore the spot to its original state and buoyed by its success, the department has decided to replicate it here. Work on the `1.5-crore project began in the middle of last year and is likely to be completed in a few months, officials said.

Three giant trammels - mechanised sieves - have been installed as part of the process to segregate the dumped garbage into different categories - bottles, rubber and big plastic waste, among others. An important aspect of the entire process is that waste such as discarded clothes, rags, cotton, paper and hard cardboard and similar refuse are combined to create what is known as Refuse Derived Fuel. This fuel would be sent to cement factories and other heavy industries to be used as fuel for the giant boilers there, they said.

Sources said that an estimated 35,000 tonnes have accumulated at the spot over the years and added that the bio-mining plant would be able to process anywhere between 100 and 200 tonnes a day.

During the segregation process, as the waste is being sieved in the trammels, fine sand and compostable waste is left behind. Whatever can be composted at the same spot is left behind and the rest is sent for recycling and use in other forms like RDF. “The benefits are immense. It will put an end to soil and water pollution and there are plans to expand this scheme to a few other local bodies in the city’s suburbs too,” said R. Elangovan, Regional Director of Municipal Administration, Chengalpattu circle.

“We are very much worried about the soil quality here. We fear that the sub-soil has been contaminated with carcinogenic substances. We have also approached the NGT to put an end to sewage draining into the lake,” said Rangarajan.

Residents of Sarvamangala Nagar wanted bio-mining to be replicated in Chitlapakkam town panchayat’s garbage dump yard too. A government high school, a health sub-centre, a community hall, a middle school and even the town panchayat office were located around it, said Ramakrishnan, a resident.


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