TIRUNELVELI: What do you do when the garbage mound at a dumpyard piles up and you are faced with potential health and ecological hazards? Lessons from past haphazard planning across the world tell us the best way out is to change location. The catch is: this itinerant way of waste management spreads health scare to a wider area. When the town planners in Tirunelveli were faced with a similar predicament, they came up with a bright spark: transform the dumpyard into an eco-friendly park.
Two years on, the Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation seems to have pulled off a job that seemed impossible at the outset. It has managed to transform the dumpyard at Ramayanpatti into an eco-friendly park through scientific closure of garbage site experiment and plans to open it for public.
The 118 acre dumpyard at Ramayanpatti was the spot where the corporation disposed of around 150 metric tonnes of garbage collected daily from the city limits. The accumulation assumed alarming proportions in 2015 when the yard had 2.16 lakh cubic metre garbage spread over 40 acres. The planners in the corporation first confined the garbage to a smaller area on 4.5 acres and thus kick-started the Scientific Closure of Garbage Method in July, 2015.
After contracting the spread, the planners covered it using compacted clay layer. Later, a 1. 5 mm High Density Polyethylene Smooth Geomembrane liner was placed on the layer, followed by the application of a five mm-thick geo-synthetic net. After covering the whole area with non-woven geo-textile, vegetative soil was placed and Korean grass sown.
Korean grass, a velvety flora, is now fully-grown, thanks largely to the monsoon rains, and provides a lush green carpet. A flight of more than 70 steps has been constructed to lead the way to the top of the site to give a breathtaking view of nearby areas.
Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation City Engineer V Narayanan Nair told Express that the corporation proposed to convert the area into an eco-friendly park. The decision to transform the dumpyard into a thing of beauty serves a practical purpose as well. “This would help prevent water pollution and fire accidents at the dumpyard. Carrion birds and stray animals too would steer clear of the spot. Besides helping us manage waste, it has enabled us to reclaim 35. 55 acres. With the support of forest department, the municipal corporation would plant saplings on to expand green cover,” Nair added.
The structure now looks like a small hill and the challenge was to prevent sliding of garbage mound. The answer lay in design element, says Nair. “The enclosure height was designed in two stages. Moreover, to drain rainwater, a stormwater drain was constructed around it. Methane vents were placed at vantage points. Plans are afoot to have children play area and a cafeteria. Such was the effect of our work that even Asian Development Bank representatives appreciated us,” Nair said.
A corporation official said that Commissioner of Municipal Administration G Prakash made special efforts to fine tune the project as a model green initiative. S P Ramesh, Associate Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering in NIT, Tiruchy, said that it was one of the best examples of scientific closure of existing dumpyard in the country.
Why use Korean Grass
A look into why it was used to create a lush green carpet
■ Commonly known as Manila grass, is a species of mat-forming, perennial grass native to temperate coastal southeastern Asia and northern Australasia
■ It forms extensive, velvety, green mats, spreading vigorously by stolons
■ Grows in low elevation preferring sandy soils where other grasses grow poorly
■ The stems are slender and prostrate
■ Grown as an ornamental grass
■ Used for turf on golf courses in Asia, Europe and the Americas
■ In addition to its ability to grow on sandy soils, it tolerates high salinity, making it ideal for erosion control and lawns in coastal areas
■ The variety of common names attests to its widespread occurrence in these regions along with its usefulness as a cultivated grass in diverse areas
■ It is naturalised in many places, as in Hawaii, and can become weedy, like many plant species with desirable horticultural characteristics
Convergence of design and aesthetics
The structure now looks like a small hill and the challenge was to prevent sliding of garbage mound. The answer lay in design element, says Nair. “The enclosure height was designed in two stages. Moreover, to drain rainwater, a stormwater drain was constructed around it. Methane vents were placed at vantage points,” he said