“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Ashraf treads where few have in the past – analyzing and evaluating the problem and potential solutions to solid waste generated in the Greater Srinagar area

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)

Solid Waste Management of Greater Srinagar City Lost in Records

Solid waste is the term used internationally to describe non-liquid waste material arising from domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural and mining activities, and from public services. These include materials such as food waste, discarded packaging and other materials in the form of paper, metals, plastic or glass, leather, discarded clothing and furnishings, garden wastes, construction wastes, which are daily generated in homes, farms, factories and other establishments.

The total solid waste generated in 2000 AD in the Srinagar Town, including those from the fruit and vegetable market, would be about 550 tons/day i.e. about 0.5 kg/head/day. (In 2020 A.D it shall be about 880 tons/day).

The Urban Environment Engineering Department (UEED) engaged Delhi based Universal Environsience as consultants in 1981 for preparation of feasibility report on solid waste management of Greater Srinagar City that made the following recommendations besides suggesting improvement to the then existing collecting and transporting system.

The chemical analysis report revealed that the solid waste of Srinagar is amenable to composting as it contains appreciable amount of organic matter and that C/N ratio is within the desirable limits of 20:1 to 35:1.

The guiding approach for solid waste disposal should be to segregate as much as possible the reusable materials from the solid waste to be followed by the under mentioned methods of disposal as is the practice in other cities like Delhi etc.

I. Maximum possible quantity (which is readily decomposable) is to be disposed off by composting . This would involve construction of compost plant on Delhi pattern at Okhla.
II. The fraction which is hardly decomposable or inert is to be disposed off by sanitary land-fill.
III. The minimum necessary fraction like hospital waste is to be incinerated.
IV. In the congested areas of the city a separate system of night soil disposal to produce manure and also bio-gas need to be adopted, on the similar pattern as in the city of Tokyo (having same latitude and similar climatic conditions as Srinagar), which is having an effective system of collection, transportation of night soil and treatment and disposal in night soil digesters.
Besides, where space permits low cost pit type flush latrine could be popularized which has changed many towns/cities into clean ones? The experiment of Sulabh International for construction/maintenance of even community type latrines has proved to be success on pay-and-use-basis. This has been adopted by 21 UNDP countries.
V. Keep at least 200 meters distance on the banks of river Jhelum and lake fronts free from littering by introducing necessary prohibitive civic regulations (like the one that exists in Singapore). Violators of such regulation may be made to pay heavy penalty. This would immensely help to keep the city water front clean.
VI. For preventing water pollution caused by discharge of various solid wastes including night soil from the house boats and Donga boats, the following methods are recommended:
a) built in digester plant for such individual house boats (like Clovis digester developed in Sweden).
b) Providing two suitably placed containers, one each for garbage and night soil in each boat with the provision of regular collection of wastes by a scavenger boat for safe dry disposal at selected disposal site(s).
c) Providing collective water carrying system for the night soil of the boats and installation of treatment facility(s) in the land nearest to the boats before its disposal.

Alternative (b) was recommended feasible in the context of present arrangement and location of house boat and Donga boats in the lakes and river Jehlum and also due to practical constraints of rear arrangement/modification of the boats and non-availability of land area near the boat.

Kitchen waste could be converted into compost by digging underground pits of size 1M x 1M x 1. 5M duly covered with a wooden lid in which alternate layer of decomposable waste duly covered with a little lime and earth could be deposited. This compost can be used for Kitchen garden, where space permits.

Solid waste collection system could be improved by providing two plastic containers in each home with decomposable bags, in which decomposable and non- decomposable waste would be stored separately and carried away along with the replaceable bag by the service people, who would be paid for the same. This would avoid menace of stinking garbage sheds in the localities.

After exploring various sites it was desired that Syedpora near Idd-Gah may be used for solid waste dumping till the “compost plant” is ready at Waniyar Noorbagh (as an interim arrangement for about five years).

The project was proposed to be implemented in the next five years from 1981 with a capital expenditure of Rs. 5.00 crores, and it was expected that the Srinagar Municipality would be in a position to develop the required management infrastructure in a phased manner., which could be delineated after necessary schemes, designs and other components of the solid waste management system were worked out in the 2nd stage of the scope of the consultancy work.

The final project report may be available from UEED, SMC or Delhi based consultants M/S Universal Enviroscience (Pvt. Ltd.) New Delhi, wherefrom the thread could be picked up by Srinagar Municipality for implementation of the project in the coming years before it is too late. Alternatively consultancy of improved methods of collection and disposal could be obtained from the concerned agencies.