IN order to encourage use of waste plastic on National Highways, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in 2015 issued guidelines to encourage use of plastic
IN order to encourage use of waste plastic on National Highways, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in 2015 issued guidelines to encourage use of plastic waste in the hot mix of bituminous plants. The MoRTH guidelines reads:
“Bituminous mix with waste plastic shall be the default mode for periodic renewal with hot mixes within 50 Kms periphery of urban areas having population more than 5 lakhs. Any relaxation on ground of non-availability of waste plastic, cost etc. shall involve approval of the Ministry. All the agencies responsible for preparation of project reports / estimates for the National Highways and Centrally sponsored works are expected to analyse and clearly bring out reasons of inclusion or otherwise of provision of use of waste plastic in wearing coats in the proposal”
The guidelines further reads:
“Above mentioned guidelines shall be mandatorily followed for laying of wearing coat on Service Roads along National Highways within 50 kms periphery of urban area having population more than 5 lakhs also”
In 2019, during the winter session of parliament Road Transport, Minister Nitin Gadkari told the parliament that Indian Road Congress (IRC) had formulated guidelines for the use of waste plastic in hot bituminous mixes in wearing courses based on laboratory as well as field performance studies/investigations carried out in India. In this process, 8% plastic waste is used by weight of bitumen in the bituminous wearing course and as per mix design requirement.
Srinagar Ring Road
PM Narendra Modi in May 2019 inaugurated two Ring Road projects in J&K aimed at decongesting traffic in Jammu and Srinagar cities. In Jammu, around 200 hectares (4000 kanals) of land has already been acquired for a 58-km highway. The work on the project has been going on. For the Srinagar Ring Road, 370 hectares (7560 kanals) of land is going to be acquired for a 62-km highway connecting Pulwama with Ganderbal via Budgam. 90% of the land is agriculture land. Srinagar Ring Road will cross through Pampore, Wathora Chadoora,Budgam,Dharmuna, Narbal and then pass via Srinagar’s western outskirts in Rambir Garh and enter Ganderbal after crossing the Srinagar Bandipora road.
Affected people, especially the farmers in Budgam and some other districts, have been on the warpath with the Govt over non-payment of fair compensation to them by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). As already mentioned in my previous write-ups, the Government has used force to take possession of the land in Budgam since the last 5 to 6 months. The matter has been before the division bench of the high court for 5 years now and very soon the final judgement is expected to be pronounced. In this piece, I am not going to discuss the legal battle of farmers but the issue related to the environmental destruction this road project is causing in Kashmir valley particularly in Budgam. I have come up with some suggestions which can help stop the environmental destruction.
EIA & EMP of Ring Road
As per the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) & Environmental Management Plan (EMP) of Srinagar Ring Road Project prepared by Louis Berger Consulting Pvt. Ltd, the compliance of Terms of Reference (TOR) for this alternate highway way discussed in 135th meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Building/Construction Projects/Township and Area Development Projects, Coastal Regulation Zone, Infrastructure Development and Miscellaneous projects held on 1st August 2014 at New Delhi. In the Appendix 1 under headline compliance of TOR it is mentioned at serial ii that the 17929 number of trees fall within the proposed Right of Way (RoW).
“Bare minimum trees to be cut. The information about their species and whether it also involves any protected or endangered species be provided. Necessary green belt shall be provided on both sides of the highway with proper central verge and cost provision should be made for regular maintenance”, reads the TOR point at serial ii.
In the compliances column, it is mentioned that 17929 trees are proposed to be felled from agriculture land. It further says that dominant species of trees to be affected are Popular plantations average girth size of trees are 20cm. Recently, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in an RTI reply revealed that more than 1.11 lakh trees have been cut down for the Srinagar Ring road project. The details about destruction caused to apple orchards , and other fruit trees is not mentioned. Karewas , rivers , streams ate being plundered and there is no details about it in the EIA & EMP. The Hokersar wetland is affected but the EIA says the highway is away from the wetland.
Decongest Achan , Desilt Flood Channel
More than 1 lakh KMS of roads have been made from waste plastic in India since the last 10 years. Out of this, more than 700 kms of National Highways have been constructed by using waste plastic. This was revealed last during this year’s Monsoon session of parliament by Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. He told Lok Sabha, in a written reply, that the ministry has issued guidelines for mandatory use of waste plastic in periodic renewal with hot mixes and in wearing coats of service road on national highways within 50km periphery of an urban area having a population of more than 5 lakhs. The use of plastic waste in the construction of roads protects the environment from the adverse impacts of waste plastic. In Madhya Pradesh, Imteaz Ali who runs an NGO Sarthak in Bhopal has been supplying waste plastic to Madhya Pradesh Road Construction Corporation (MPRCC) for more than 10 years now. This has helped in the construction of more than 15000 Kms of roads made of waste plastic & bitumen. Around 40,000 metric tons of plastic waste has been supplied by Imteaz Ali to MPRCC.
We have large amounts of plastic dumped at Achan landfill site in Srinagar. Why can’t the same be used in construction of Srinagar Ring Road? This will not only unchoke this congested landfill site but will reduce the environmental impact on our water resources, karewas and mountains which are over explored by the construction company that has been allotted the contract of Srinagar Ring Road construction.
Why shall muck and earth filling be obtained from streams like Shali Ganga or Doodh Ganga or damaging the Karewas of Budgam? The silt and clay can be excavated from the Flood Spill channel when it gets dry between September to December. This will again serve two purposes: a) The Karewas and streams in Budgam won’t be destroyed for Riverbed & clay mining b) The flood spill channel from Rajbagh to Wullar via Narbal will be cleared of silt which will help easy flow of water during floods.
It has been made mandatory for every state/UT to take up a stretch of at least 10 km as pilot project for assessment of its performance. During 2019-20, the Swachhata Hi Seva Campaign the main focus of the Government was on plastic waste management. This was in fact the main theme of the campaign. There were clear instructions for collection and re-use of waste plastic. This included information, education, communication (IEC) activities, recycling, effective disposal of plastic waste that included its use in road construction.
The unsuccessful Swachhta Hi Seva campaign in J&K was restricted to Government officers taking pics with brooms outside their offices. I have not seen any visible innovative work done in any district of Jammu & Kashmir vis a vis using plastic waste in bitumen plants and making roads from this material. Using waste plastic for construction of the Ring Road project is a great opportunity for the Government especially the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). In fact, this should have been part of the DPR or EIA itself. In 2018, I suggested this to the then Government. I again urge the present Government headed by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chairman NHAI to discuss and deliberate on my humble suggestion.