The waste conundrum

An experiment of decentralized solid, liquid and energy management in a Delhi colony is unique because the efficient functioning of a well planned waste and energy management system. The experiment demonstrates that clean environment is not a burden on the exchequer and the ecosystem benefits from reduced burden on the water table, energy and resources

By Shyamala Mani
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

An  experiment of decentralized solid, liquid and energy  management in a Delhi colony is unique because the efficient functioning of a well planned waste and energy management system. The experiment demonstrates that clean environment is not a burden on the exchequer and the ecosystem benefits from reduced burden on the water table, energy and resources

Waste is a by-product of living. Expenditure towards commuting, housing and living in urban areas is accepted as the investment required for attaining a high standard of life. However, the ever-increasing costs of natural resources due to the fast pace of urban growth is being ignored, whose deterioration is contributing to increased expenditure in healthcare too.

Issues of Municipal Solid Waste:

Waste Mountains

In our haste to get rid of our waste, we have created garbage-mountains of 35 metres in height (e.g. Ghazipur dumpsite) extending to at least 100 acres, which is about 0.014 km3. We have also contaminated our ground and sub-soil water through dumping besides putting out toxic emissions and dust into the atmosphere from burning in incinerators.

A viable alternative:

Case Study - Solid Waste, Waste water, Energy Management at New Motibagh, New Delhi

The General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) complex at New Motibagh is a 110-acre campus housing about 1000 families of bureaucrats and their domestic help. This residential complex located in South Central Delhi, stands out among other upscale colonies in Lutyens Delhi, which are major water and energy guzzlers. The GPRA complex, constructed and maintained by National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) Ltd, was developed for the Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India between 2008 and 2012. The NBCC put in place decentralized waste water and municipal solid waste management system for the houses at New Motibagh and integrated a solar energy street lighting and solar water heating system with the housing plan.

GPRA Complex, New Motibagh, New Delhi

An Integrated System: This experiment of decentralized solid, liquid and energy management at the GPRA complex, New Motibagh is unique because the efficient functioning of a well planned waste and energy management system, demonstrates that clean environment is not a burden on the exchequer and the ecosystem benefits from reduced burden on the water table, energy and resources. 

Waste Water Management: About 70% of the 8 lakh litres of water supplied to the residents, that is, 5.6 lakh litres of waste water generated is treated in a decentralized waste water treatment plant within the campus using the Moving Bed Bio-reactor (MBBR) technology. There is a net savings of Rs.5 lakhs per annum due to direct and indirect savings from a decentralized Waste Water Treatment plant (WWTP) in the campus whose running cost is Rs.55.55 lakhs as opposed to the centralized sewerage system costing Rs.60.62 lakhs. 

Savings from Decentralized waste and energy management system:

S.No Particulars Savings Amount in Lakhs of
Rupees per annum
1 Surcharge of 50% on water bill for non-disposal of sewage to municipal system Direct 14.60
2 Using Treated Water from STP for gardening in the campus Direct 27.50
3 Using Sludge cake from STP Direct 02.00
4 Laying long trunk for irrigation and sewerage and pumping Indirect 16.00
5 50,000  litres per day of treated waste water given free to NDMC Indirect 00.52

Waste water treatment plant at GPRA complex, New Motibagh, New Delhi

Solid Waste Management: Similarly, the Solid Waste Management project run by M/s Green Planet Waste Management (P) Ltd. (Operator) in collaboration with NBCC, who spent Rs.20 lakhs for providing 4000 Sqft of covered sheds and the Operator who has invested Rs 50 Lakhs on machinery, garbage bins at common places, collection trolleys/ cycle rickshaws , is now self-sustainable.

The process: The total generation of waste from the households and shops is 1.5 MT while the garden waste accounts for another 1 MT. Of the household waste, the wet compostable waste from households is about 1 MT per day which is converted to compost using the Excel method, using a composter, which does size reduction as well as mixing of wet waste with the inoculum. This is followed by composting in trays kept on racks, humidified and turned daily for about 2-3 weeks yielding about one fourth of its weight as compost, which is cured, sieved and packaged to be sold at Rs.5 per kg. Similarly, a pelletization assembly for cutting, drying, compressing and pelletizing garden waste generates about half its weight in pellets to be sold at Rs.8-9 per kg.  The running cost for all activities is Rs.3,02,800 per month.

Compost and Pelletization plant at GPRA complex, New Motibagh, New Delhi

It is estimated that about 25 – 30 MT of compost and pellets are generated per month yielding about Rs.2 to 2.5 lakhs. Sale of recyclables especially paper helps to attain break-even. In addition, a plastics to fuel oil equipment has also been installed whose economics and contribution to the revenue is yet to be calculated. The big drawback is that residents do not segregate wet from dry waste, which has to be done by waste workers at the segregation area and the company is not insisting that the residents do it.

The energy savings from 300 solar street lights at the GPRA complex, covering internal roads, common areas, parking lots and bunglows, help in saving Rs.32.28 lakhs per annum. Along with solar water heaters, the savings on electricity is close to Rs.35 lakhs a year.    

Therefore, a decentralised integrated solid waste, waste water and energy project for about 1000 households can achieve clean and green surroundings and financial savings to the tune of Rs.40-50 lakhs per annum.  Green surroundings, ground water recharge and the reduction in carbon footprint achieved are yet to be monetized. 

Solar Street Lighting and Solar Water Heating at GPRA Complex, New Motibagh

Land requirement for Decentralized Waste Management: The land requirement is around 6000 – 7000 sq ft for 1000 households (HH). In a well-planned locality this would be about 10 ft3 (taking average population to be 6 per HH) or 0.28 m3 per person almost permanently. In the case of mere dumping of waste in a landfill, the per household land requirement per year is 0.0003 cm3 or .0075 m3 which will be exhausted in 25 years or less if the average household garbage generation is 0.5kg/day as estimated in India. Hence, a landfill of 100 acres with the allowable height of 20 metres will barely last for 20 years. Therefore, allocating 0.28 m3 per person permanently for waste management in the city is worth it.   
Planning for Integrated Waste Management in the city:

As per its master plan, Delhi has allocated 200 sq m for Dalaos in common areas for every 10,000 population, which is about 0.2m3 per person, which is what we require, especially for decentralized Solid Waste Management (SWM). If the space is appropriately modified and used, then the solid waste issue can be solved.

In addition if space along the large drains or Nallas is used for innovative technologies for decentralized treatment of waste water, then decentralized Solid and Liquid Waste management can be achieved within the city.  In a city like Delhi, with a population of 12 million, a total of 0.003 km3 would be required in small pockets, which is less than 25% of the land being wasted by one of our landfills.

Therefore, we need to focus on segregation and recycling.  Maintenance and efficient running rather than creation of huge assets will help us achieve this. Let’s take this first step and make our cities cleaner, greener and healthier.  

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  • It is really a great

    It is really a great effort.Is it possible to have a look at the system? Who is the contact person?

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • Excellent article on

    Excellent article on Waste.

    As the saying goes,ÔÇØOneÔÇÖs Trash is someone elseÔÇÖs Treasure.
    Waste disposal is the bane of many a new-age city, and bustling metros such as Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are no exception.
    The problem does not entirely lie with garbage collection agencies, who are doing their best to lift all the refuse. Rather, the thousands of tonnes of solid and liquid waste generated every day by the gargantuan population of these thriving Indian cities pose the conundrum with respect to waste disposal: where will it all go?
    One proposed solution has been incineration of the waste to make it more compact and manageable. Burning of waste can reduce the volume by up to 90 per cent. Energy can also be generated as a useful by-product of the process. But there has been stiff resistence from Environmentalists on this.
    In India, each municipality is responsible for organizing its own waste management in the following areas:
    ÔÇó Waste segregation and storage at the source
    ÔÇó Primary collection
    ÔÇó Street sweeping
    ÔÇó Secondary waste storage
    ÔÇó Transport of waste
    ÔÇó Treatment and recycling options for solid waste
    ÔÇó Final disposal
    Unfortunately, each of these seven stages are frought with difficulties, and city services and citizen cooperation can be, overall, inefficient.
    Currently, there is no official system for the widespread collection of recyclables, and the tasks of collecting, transporting and disposing of waste are done under very unsanitary conditions. These problems have been created in part by low budgets and a lack of technology and manpower.
    Part of Countries improvements for waste sanitation will need to include better outreach to its citizens regarding the benefits of clean waste practices and caring for the environment. Also, experts have suggested that assigning some responsibilities to the private sector could provide advantages such as salaries based on job performance, access to better technology, job creation and more effective administration.
    But as countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany have already proven, a major key to reducing waste is limitation at the source of creation. Perhaps by creating more programs and initiatives to better encourage citizens, manufacturers and communities to be less wasteful, the country will find it easier to continue taking steps toward a cleaner, safer environment.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • Dear Dr Shyamala Mani,
    Greetings from Waste Management Convention 2017
    We would like to solicit your gracious presence for the upcoming 5th World Convention on Recycling and Waste Management, September 11-12, 2017 held at Singapore. The conference is organized with the theme “Don’t waste the waste, reuse for sustainable green energy generation”. Waste Management convention 2017 is a two day conference consisting of comprehensive talks, special sessions, oral and poster presentations of peer-reviewed papers and exciting and innovative research products for exhibition.
    • Abstracts get published in our respective Supporting International journals with DOI provided by Cross Ref.
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    • Access to attend all the talks/workshops/symposiums throughout the 2 days of the conference.
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    • Young researcher and best poster awards are also given.
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    We request you to accept our invitation and send you’re abstract.
    Kindly submit an abstract as per the template, which is available at the abstract submission link:

    Waiting for your kind reply.

    Program Manager - Waste Management Convention 2017
    Contact: (702) 508 5200 Extn: 8061| Customer Service: +1 (800) 216 6499
    731 Gull Ave., Foster City, CA 94404, USA

    Posted by: Olivia Disouza | 3 years ago | Reply