Pollution crisis: Kerala govt teams up with central institute for waste management

Firefighters engaged in dousing the fire at Brahmapuram waste dump yard near Kochi on Monday. Photo: PRD

Thiruvananthapuram: Close on heels of the recent pollution and smoke crisis in Kochi after the fire at Brahmapuram waste yard, two state government entities on Thursday announced that they were partnering with CSIR - National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST) for better waste management and pollution control in the state.

The Local Self Government Department (LSGD) and Pollution Control Board (PCB) said that CSIR would be their partner in Research and Development.

The announcement was made at the inaugural ceremony of a thematic session on clean-up technologies, titled 'Prithvi', held as part of the ongoing 'One Week One Lab (OWOL)' programme of CSIR-NIIST, an official release said.

The central institution, in the past, has not only contributed its inputs on addressing environmental pollution and waste management to the two government departments, it has also provided them with a string of technology services.

Inaugurating the Prithvi session, M G Rajamanickam, Principal Director, LSGD, and Commissioner, Rural Development, of the Kerala Government, said the principal duty of research institutions like CSIR-NIIST was to provide scientific and technological support that advances society and especially benefits future generations and protect the environment.

"We require not only the development of technology, but technology that would sustain sustain society and pave the way for the future," Rajamanickam said.

Noting that shortage of land posed a serious handicap in Kerala's waste management system, he said that a study had found that the state generates 15,000 tonnes of waste per day, amounting to five million tonnes annually.

"When the government's processing capacity is only 10 percent, where does the remaining garbage go?" he asked.

Terming OWOL a good programme to bring awareness about new technology to the public, Rajamanickam said that LSGD's decision to deepen its collaboration with CSIR-NIIST would greatly improve pollution control activities.

Rajamanickam also inaugurated a facility for Geospatial Modelling and Analysis set up at CSIR-NIIST, and launched Jaivam', a bio medium for aerobic composting of food waste developed by the central institute.

Dr C Anandharamakrishnan, Director, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram, who presided over the function, said NIIST is working to find apt solutions for the disposal of domestic and electronic waste.

Speaking about certain NIIST initiatives, he said that apart from making leather products from agrowaste, the institute had also developed technologies for bio medical waste disposal, which have been transferred to a startup in Ernakulam.

In the past few years, Kerala has often been ravaged by floods. NIIST's new geospatial centre which, Anandharamakrishnan said could predict floods, would be helpful in preparing for such eventualities.

Dr Bineesha P, Executive Director, International Institute of Waste Management (IIWM) and Board Member, Technology Development Board, DST, Government of India, said there was no dearth of technology but what was lacking is a systematic approach to dealing with environmental issues.

A disaster management plan has to be put in place, she said, noting that CSIR-NIIST's geospatial facility would be an important cog in the system, as it can map every dump site.

Pradeep Kumar A B, Chairman, PCB, Government of Kerala, pointed out that manpower shortage and the absence of a legal cell had been hampering the effective implementation of their activities. He said the collaboration with CSIR-NIIST would help effect a big change in their activities.

Meanwhile, at the Startup and Industry conclave, Dr Sheela A M, Member Secretary, Kerala State PCB, urged startups to take up a major role in evolving solutions for a cost-effective treatment system for waste water and its reuse, and also for proper tracking of waste disposal.

(With PTI inputs)

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