Turning Nagaland’s plastic waste into durable roads
S. Henlly Phom
Dimapur, April 29 (EMN): The use of plastic has become a primary feature of our lives today but it carries with it disadvantages if we are not responsible with the use of plastic. A government order in November 2015 made it mandatory for all road developers in the country to use plastic waste along with bituminous mixes for road construction to help overcome the growing problem of plastic waste disposal in India.
The idea for plastic road was developed by Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Professor of Chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai in 2002 who came to be known as the ‘Plastic Man’ of India. The environmentally friendly approach of plastic road was first experimented by the Nagaland Pollution Control Board (NPCB) in 2009 in Dimapur at its office premises.
The plastic road project finally took the plunge and was activated by the team: Living for Environment (LiFE), an organisation started on December 22, 2017 by like-minded youth who want to protect, conserve and preserve the environment with the endeavour to act and create awareness before it’s too late, considering the growing problems of plastic litter in the state and poor road condition.
LiFE’s first plastic road project was executed on said day when the team managed to blacktop a portion of DMC office compound. And it was on this day, the Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) administrator Moa Sangtam announced “whenever DMC constructs road we will use plastic waste.” The project was taken up with the assistance of DMC and NPCB.
Makennaro Aier, the secretary of the organisation LiFE, in a conversation with Eastern Mirror said the team launched the project ‘as in our everyday lives we deal with waste, especially plastic waste and the team were trying to look for solution, and not problem with plastic waste’.
“The concept of plastic roads was first introduced in India in 2002 by professor Vasudevan which was then borrowed by other countries as well and we got in touch with him for more details for our project”, said Aier. Also she maintained that Nagaland is the first state in Northeast to embrace the use of plastic waste for road construction.
Earlier this year, LiFE undertook the ‘Clean Doyang Project’ which was not fruitful. The team acknowledged that they were not prepared to be received by loads of waste accumulated over the years at Doyang and in view of that they took just one truck along with them which was not enough to carry the waste.
Dissatisfied with the result, Aier opined that to make Doyang clean the project needs to be one where the civil society, authorities, and the locals come together and join the service. She acknowledged that the team during their trip at Doyang missed out on disseminating awareness and prior information beforehand. “We need to come together to preserve and protect our natural heritage,” Aier shared.
“Making use of plastic is not only cost-effective and all-weather durable but it is a brilliant way of disposing our plastic waste which is hazardous to our environment. Everyone is talking about Swachh Bharat but people have no idea what to do with the plastic waste which is also polluting the environment,” she pointed out. Also, she observed that most of the wastages come from households and public gatherings but waste management and segregation are not being practised at home.
LiFE team suggested if the public can collect or segregate plastic waste and contact them it will be assistance to the team for their project and a win-win situation for all.
Another concern they face in their project is the non-availability of mini hot-mix plant which produces homogeneous mix of hot aggregate and molten bitumen in batches at equal intervals. “The ideal required temperature is 160-170 which can be achieved only with the mini hot-mix plant. However we are managing with firewood which is not convenient,” lamented Aier.
The first plastic road in public area after DMC office was completed at Duncan Basti in Dimapur measuring an area of 150×30 ft. This project was undertaken with assistance from DMC and proprietor of Vipe Enterprise, Among Imkong. Another was in Mokokchung district measuring 70×12 ft which was sponsored by an unnamed individual and supervised by PWD (National Highways) Mokokchung division.
LiFE is engaged at another plastic road project at Padampukuri in Dimapur and they plans to introduce the project in Kohima as well as other districts as part of their endeavour to push the idea of plastic roads and transform Nagaland into a plastic-free state while providing good roads at the same time.
The team hopes that the government as well as contractors implement the idea of plastic roads.