Now make way for ‘plastic roads’!
BY SUKUMAR SHASTRI
ANJUNA, AUG 19 — The State is in for a ‘cleanup’. This time around, under the semblance of using plastic shredding machines to build roads using shredded plastic and bitumen, a technology expected to ‘take care’ of nearly half the plastic waste generated in the State.
Speaking to Herald, Director of Panchayats, Menino D’Souza said, “the 11 machines ordered by the Directorate of Panchayats are expected to be delivered in 10-15 days period.”
These machines are expected to use clean plastic waste of certain quality to produce granular like bits of plastic in addition to the bitumen, which would be used in laying roads. However, sources informed that the cost of laying these roads would be 10-20 per cent more.
Menino D’Souza informed that his department has “placed an order for 11 plastic shredding machines, which will be made available to panchayats.”
However, questions have been raised on the practicality and financial viability of the same. D’Souza defends the technology saying it has been “tried and tested in Tamil Nadu. The machine costs about a lakh and would solve about 50 per cent of the plastic disposal problem.”
Environmental consultant, Clinton Vaz, however, is of the opinion that “though the Department of Panchayats may claim that the cost of the machine is around a lakh, it needs to be understood that there are other expenses to actually run the machine which raises the costs drastically.” Moreover, “the technology would allow only clean plastic to be used in the shredding process and polythene bags which form a sizable quantity cannot be used in this technology,” says Vaz.
Interestingly, the State has not approved the technology in road laying guidelines, which means that the user guide would need to accommodate the technology first and only then the actual process of using the technology could be explored, informed Vaz.
When asked of the make of the machinery, D’Souza said, “the machine is fabricated by a Chennai-based company and is brought to the State by a local distributor.”
“This technology would be used for topping-up of roads and filling potholes,” he said.
A senior official from the Secretariat on condition of anonymity said, “equipment purchases are driven by quantum of commission offered and not any genuine need. Sweeping machines purchase at a cost of Rs 1 crore is a classic example where no municipal councils asked for them. No feasibility study of using them was ever done and they were purchased.”
Whoever and whatever the drive may be behind the project, some are of the opinion that the State has a lot to benefit from the plastic shredder project. “Yes, it (plastic shredders) will definitely help the plastic industry”, says, Goa Small Scale Industries official, Keshava Kamat. However, Clinton Vaz claims, “in theory, it is not possible to shred soft plastics such as grocery bags as these would get entangled with the disc in the machine”.
“The government is putting in these shredders with no collection system in place. The Rural Garbage Disposal Scheme has no takers, so where will all the plastics come from”, questions Vaz.