The Centre has decided to link road construction with the Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, paving the way for the use of inert material derived from solid waste into the construction of embankments along national highways.
Building on the success of pilot projects, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has formulated a draft policy addressing the utilisation of inert waste material that does not naturally decompose and has invited public comments on the same.
The disposal of solid waste poses a significant environmental challenge for urban areas. According to the ministry's assessment, approximately 170 million tonnes of waste accumulate across 2,304 dump sites in the country.
However, the major component of solid waste is inert soil which is generated by bio-remediation and bio-mining of this legacy waste. Study has been conducted by MoRTH though the Delhi-based Central Road Research Institute, which established that the generated inert soil can be utilised in embankment of highway.
It should be noted that the construction of embankment of highways requires huge amount of soil which at time is required to be procured from agriculture field. There is a need for sustainable construction of highways which have minimum impact on environment and ecology in procurement of materials.
To address the challenges associated with urban solid waste disposal and the increasing need for earth in embankment construction, the Ministry of Road Transport, in collaboration with the National Highways Authority of India, has undertaken two pilot projects for utilisation of inert material.
The initial pilot project took place in Delhi-NCR, specifically on the urban extension road and the DND-Sohna spur of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. The second pilot project involved the use of inert solid waste material on the Ahmedabad-Dholera Expressway.
Moreover, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, as part of Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0, has introduced a scheme to allocate funds to local bodies for the processing of urban solid waste.
Consequently, the central government has chosen to explore alternative applications for the solid waste in highway road projects. This move aims to address both the challenge of urban solid waste disposal and the increasing demand for earth in embankment construction, particularly as highway development gains momentum.
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