Say residents of Pali Hill, Bandra, as they launch a waste-to-energy project that will power 68 streetlamps.
A wise saying goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together’. The residents of Pali Hill, Bandra, have proven this statement true by working together to bring to fruition a project that is one of a kind in the city. The ambitious project, which aims at transforming Pali Hill into a zero-garbage area, will convert 800 kilograms of wet waste into biogas, which will then be used to power 68 streetlamps every night. This will help the BMC save between Rs 7-10 lakh per annum. After a successful test run, the Pali Hill Residents Association (PHRA) is all set to formally launch their wonder waste-to-energy plant today.
Talking about the genesis of the idea, Madhu Poplai, secretary of the PHRA, the body that spearheaded the entire project, says, “Waste was a problem, but Pali Hill residents were not willing to try composting. It is a high-end area and people were sceptical about the smell and mosquitoes. But something had to be done.” A suggestion by the assistant municipal commissioner, H-West ward, Sharad Ughade, to fashion a waste-to-energy project that mimicked the one in Varanasi, led to the creation of the Pali Hill plant. But the journey wasn’t a bed of roses; as Madhu says, “There were many hurdles, big and small, that had to be overcome.” Some of them included acqu-iring land and funds for the project, coming up with an aesthetically design, as well as hiring a manufacturer that would construct the plant.
When your intention is pure, good things happen and the PHRA soon saw help pouring in. “Our MLA, Ashish Shelar, helped us collect CSR funds, while Mr Ughade helped us get Pali Hill Water Reservoir as the project site,” says Poplai. The solid waste management (SWM) team of the H–West ward then kicked into action, assisting the PHRA in waste segregation. “The first thing was separation of waste. 2.2 tonnes of mixed waste was turned into 1.8 tonnes of dry waste and 800 kilograms of wet waste,” says Madhu.
But what happens if 800 kilograms of wet waste isn’t available every day to power the streetlamps? “A tripper and an inverter adapter have been placed on the transformer. It will cause the switch from gas energy to electrical energy,” says Madhu.
Biogas will not be the only beneficial product emanating from the plant, for the waste-to-energy conversion process will also leave behind a mineral-rich residue, which Madhu plans to use ingeniously. “The residue will be converted into manure at our composting site. We have already made 200 kilograms of manure. We will grow vegetables here, which will then be distributed free of cost to the old age home and orphanage in the area,” she says.
Clearly, the project is all set to work miracles at multiple levels, but most of all, it has managed to sharpen a sense of civic consciousness in the residents.
Sushma Kothari, who has been residing at Pali Hill for over 30 years, reiterates this point. “I think our project sets a very good example of how the community can get together to solve contemporary urban problems at the grassroots level,” she says. Rati Banerjee, another resident, adds, “This project is worth emulating throughout Mumbai. It will help reduce so much of waste.”