by Vijay Chavan
Admits in affidavit filed before NGT that organic waste can only be shrunk up to 90% in a day, but
takes 30 days to be matured; now, it has no space to store the processed garbage
Even as it has been battling with garbage disposal issues for the past few months, the Pune Municipal
Corporation (PMC) has admitted in an affidavit to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that conversion of
organic waste into compost in 24 hours is practically impossible, as it takes at least 30 days for the
compost to be ready. Worse, the PMC has no space to store the processed garbage either.
This revelation has exposed the reality of the PMC’s so-called garbage management plan, which was
following the strike at Uruli-Devachi and Phursungi villages in the presence of chief minister Devendra
Fadnavis, to pacify the villagers in early May. Any further protest by the villagers would again cause
piling up of garbage all over the city as PMC does not have any facility to store this processed compost
generated by its 13 wet garbage processing plants across Pune. The civic body incurred an expense of Rs
crore to install the plants, with a running cost of electricity bills worth Rs 1 lakh for a 3-tonne
machine and Rs 2 lakh for a 5-tonne one.
Talking to Pune Mirror, one of the officers attached with the PMC solid waste management department
shared, “Each of the plants has an area between 1,000 and 10,000 sq ft.
Though the processed garbage gets shrunk, it is not possible to store daily processed garbage in this
limited area. There was no plan to store this compost when these plants were conceived about three years
ago. With no option, we are now forced to dump this processed compost in the vicinity of the plants, but
now we are facing opposition from the local residents.”
City-based Nagari Chetana Manch alleged that all the municipal organic and inorganic solid waste
processing plants installed by PMC at 13 places failed to comply with the required rules. The
also said the plants should be shut down since the compost is not in compliance with the specifications
the Municipal Solid Waste Rules (MSW), 2000 and Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016. The petitioner
also claimed that the so called 24-hour micro organism-based compost is scientifically impossible. It
alleges that the authorities failed to carry out chemical analysis of this compost independently whether
it meets the specifications in the Fertiliser Control Order, 1985.
In support to the claim, petitioner Major General (Retd) S C N Jatar also submitted a copy of the test
conducted in a private laboratory indicating that it is not as per the parameters and the said compost
hazardous to the plants as well as to the human beings due to high ratio of poisonous substance like
chromium and mercury.
Said Jatar, “Respondents PMC and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have also not taken samples
from any of the installed machines to carry out chemical analysis to verify first-hand whether the
falls within the parameters specified but the PMC issued a certificate that this technology is ‘on par
with methods of scientific waste treatment and disposal’.”
Suresh Jagtap, joint commissioner of PMC solid waste management department, submitted its affidavit on
Tuesday before the bench denying all the allegations by the petitioner. He also submitted that the
generated from processing plant is as per standard laid down by law. However, he admitted that in the
present case, the compost is matured for 30 days before it is used, so it should be tested after 30
Jatar pointed out that if the entire process takes 30 days then where are they going to store the
processed compost for that span, given that PMC is already struggling for space for dumping of garbage.
While accepting this fact, Jagtap contended that when the organic waste is put in composting plant of
machine, the volume is reduced by 85-90 per cent within 24 hours. So the next day the organic waste can
put in the composting plant. Jagtap further submitted that if pH level is higher than the prescribed
limits then it can be controlled by mixing saw dust or soil in the said compost. If chromium percentage
high then it can be reduced by adding natural zeolite etc, which requires 30 days.
Jagtap added, “The process of removing raw chemicals like mercury takes time but compost can be
within the stipulated period.” Over the question about the daily storage of this compost, he claimed
the civic body was yet to come up with a plan.
Dr S A Ismail, soil biologist and ecologist attached with Eco-science Research Foundation, Chennai,
“Composting is a natural biological process where the organic material undergoes gradual decomposition
it passes through a mesophilic phase followed by thermophilic phase and again a mesophilic phase. The
whole process in a natural system takes about a minimum of 30 days.”
Ismail added that the 24-hour machines do not produce compost. They only produce an end product of
pulverised material. “It may be harmful to the soil if used as compost. This 24-hour process can at best
reduce the volume so that it can be used for land-filling,” said Ismail.
The whole process takes a minimum of 30 days. This 24-hour process can at best reduce the volume so
it can be used for land-filling. It may be harmful to the soil if used as compost