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Indore IAS Officer Cleans Up 13,00,000 Tonnes Of Waste In 6 Months; Reclaims 100-Acre Dumpsite

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Cleaning up 13 lakh metric tonnes of waste, that too in just six months – sounds nearly impossible, right? But, Indore Municipal Commissioner Asheesh Singh has achieved this incredible feat. The young IAS officer has put forward an extraordinary example for thriving cities which struggle to get rid of heaps of waste in their landfills.

Singh resorted to the technique of biomining which ensures the most sustainable way of solid waste management. Over 100 acres of land has been reclaimed from being a garbage dumping site in the cleanest city of India.

15 lakh metric tonnes of legacy waste

In 2014, Indore secured a deplorable rating in the Swachh Survekshan survey. This served as an awakening for the citizens and authorities, who decided to be more responsible in managing their garbage. The result? Indore secured the first rank as the cleanest city of India in 2017.

However, the 100-acre dumpsite in Devguradiya, bearing the garbage burden of decades, continued to be an eyesore amidst the spick-and-span city. For nearby residential areas, pollution and stench from dumpsite proved to be an ordeal.

Asheesh Singh Indore
IMC deployed 15 trommels for the cleanup

In 2016, Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) undertook a survey at Devguradiya, which estimated the amount of legacy waste to be 15 lakh metric tonnes. The next two years saw a clearance of barely 2 lakh metric tonnes of that garbage. Such disappointing was the scenario until May 2018, when Asheesh Singh was appointed as the Municipal Commissioner. Assessing the urgency of the project, he resolved to clean up the entire stretch by the end of 2018. He kept his word, as 13 lakh metric tonnes of waste was completely cleaned up and recycled through biomining by December 5, 2018.

Adopting a new strategy

“Looking into the volume of legacy waste dumped at Devguradiya, I revisited the whole strategy,” Singh informs Efforts For Good. He realised that outsourcing the biomining initiative to private contractors was proving to be highly expensive, but ineffective. “They charged us around Rs 500 per cubic meter. That would have cost us approximately 65 crores to clear the entire waste,” he shares, adding that it was beyond the financial capacity of IMC. So how exactly did he achieve the impossible?

Asheesh Singh Indore
The landfill site before the biomining initiative

“I decided to take machinery on rent and operate from our own resources. We operated these machineries in two shifts and completed the work in six months. The interesting fact is that we had to spend less than Rs 10 crore in the entire process,” he reveals. Apparently, he deployed 15-20 times more machinery and labour resources than ever before.

From a 100-acre dumpsite to a golf course

The basics of biomining or bioremediation involve the segregation of usable soil and recyclable waste materials (metal, paper, cloth and plastic) from the legacy waste dumped since years. Every day, Singh and his team maintained strict supervision and prodded the work to proceed in “war-footing”.

The heaps of recyclables separated from 15,00,000 cubic metres of legacy waste were all suitably upcycled. Polythene was sent to cement plants and also used in paving roads. Rubble disposed of from construction sites was utilised to generate new building materials. 15% of the remaining waste was found to be non-biodegradable and non-recyclable, which has been safely disposed of in a secured landfill. “Area of reclaimed land is 100 acres, and its cost is around 400 crores,” Singh shares.

Asheesh Singh Indore
Sculpture made from recycled items

At present, IMC is conducting an afforestation drive in the erstwhile dumpsite to restore the green cover. In fact, the plan to develop a golf course there is also on the cards.

Other achievements by Asheesh Singh

The Devguradiya bioremediation project was essentially spearheaded by Asheesh Singh, who admits receiving a lot of assistance from IMC Additional Commissioner Rohan Saxena and Asad Warsi from Eco Pro Environmental Services.

Asheesh Singh Indore
Green cover at the site

For Singh, this might be his greatest landmark achievement yet, but definitely not the first. He has been dedicated to ‘Swachhta’ initiatives for quite a long time. Earlier, as the CEO of Zilla Panchayat, Indore, he launched the ‘Indore Swachhta Sangram’ which propelled Indore to be the second ODF (Open Defecation Free) district in India in just five months.

Asheesh Singh Indore
Some results of recycling

Efforts For Good salutes the unbelievable feat accomplished by Asheesh Singh and hopes he pilots more such initiatives in the days to come.

Also Read: Kerala: IAS Officer’s Facebook Campaign Is Rebuilding Flood-Ravaged Alleppey

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

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Out of 20,00,000

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Out of 20,00,000

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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