Stone quarry swallows waste, spews out a garden

By TheHindu on 16 Sep 2017 | read
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A few years ago, Bagaluru Bande, an abandoned stone quarry on the outskirts of north Bengaluru, was the place parents would warn their children to steer clear of as they risk falling to their death.

By May 2016, the quarry had become a dumping ground for Bengaluru’s waste. Consequently, the threat of disease and water contamination, as well as the unrelenting stench, raised the hackles of residents.

One year down the line, the quarry is almost unrecognisable, but so is the dump. The site has morphed into a garden with fruit and flowering trees. Even ragi is being grown on a patch of land.

To bring about this pleasant transformation, the civic body mud-capped the quarry pit, which was filled with garbage, and created a park on the 1.2 acre plot that has been reclaimed.

“We are happy to see the restoration of the site. This can be an example for other quarry pits where the civic body is dumping waste,” said Ramprasad, a solid waste management activist.

Starting in May 2016, the quarry pit took 300-400 tonnes of mixed waste every day. Even by conservative estimates, the pit had 1.35 lakh tonnes of mixed waste when it was filled to the brim by the end of August 2017.

“The waste would amount to about 70% of the volume of the pit due to several layers of mud capping that was carried out in between,” said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Solid Waste Management.

Once the pit was filled with waste, BBMP capped it with a layer of debris over which a High Density Polyethelene liner was laid. “We laid mud with fertile red soil to a height of 1.5 metres before planting saplings,” said Basavaraj Khabade, executive engineer, projects, BBMP.

Civic officials said care has been taken to plant saplings that do not develop deep roots. They planted saplings of neem and amla, and flowering plants like crotons.

The waste in the quarry pit is likely to release methane gas and leachate for up to four years. Civic officials have built 12 leachate collection tanks and provided several vents for the release of methane gas.

“We are trying to check if the methane release is strong enough to harness it for electricity,” said Mr. Khan.

Watch out for second garden

Bagalur Bande quarry has two pits. One was filled up with waste and converted into a garden.

The second is almost full. Once full, it will also be developed into a garden, possibly by October end.

This leaves only Bellahalli and Mittiganahalli quarries operational as landfills, with much opposition from local residents. “Once Bellahalli and Mittiganahalli quarries are also full, we will develop gardens there,” said an official.

A similar attempt by the Forest Department at the Mavallipura landfill has met with much success. The department has dug pits amidst the 20 feet high garbage dumps and planted saplings of cotton, banyan and peepal trees.