In Chennai a lake of trash is coming to life thanks to an initiative by its residents

Chennai's Sembakkam lake which was once a rich water resource became a dumping ground for garbage over the last few decades

Do you have any memories of a clean Yamuna river or pristine lakes of Bengaluru? No, right? All thanks to us humans who have suffocated innumerable lakes and rivers to death by dumping garbage and filth. Over time, several efforts have been made by the government as well as NGOs in order to save the dying lakes and rivers but most of those efforts went in vain. Until you read the story of Sembakkam lake in Chennai that proved to be an exception.

Chennai’s Sembakkam lake which was once a rich water resource became a dumping ground for garbage over the last few decades. But with the help of locals and Sembakkam Residents Welfare Association (SRWA), this lake of trash is coming back to life.

In order to save the lake, members of SRWA in Chennai submitted a petition to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). After the follow-up review by the NGT, the Tamil Nadu government ordered to immediately stop the garbage dumping at the spot.

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Meanwhile, with the aim to provide respite to the residents, the state has further taken the initiative to resuscitate a 4.5-acre portion of the lake to its original condition by employing the technique of bio-mining.

What is bio-mining?

Bio-mining is the process of using microorganisms (microbes) to extract metals of economic interest from rock ores or mine waste.

With an allocation of Rs 1.5 crore, the concerned officials stated that the project, which took flight last year, is expected to conclude in a few months with the bio-mining plant processing 100 to 200 tonnes of waste per day.
It is believed that around 35,000 tonnes had accumulated at the site over years of dumping.

While talking to the The New Indian Express, R. Elangovan, Regional Director of Municipal Administration, Chengalpattu circle, said,

“During the segregation process, as the waste is being sieved in the trammels, fine sand and compostable waste are left behind. Whatever can be composted at the same spot is left behind, and the rest is sent for recycling and use in other forms like RDF.”

Through three giant trammels (mechanised sieves), the garbage is first segregated into various categories depending upon their degradability. On the other hand, waste such as discarded clothes, rags, cotton, paper and hard cardboard are processed to create Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), which is routed to cement factories and other industries to meet the fuel consumption needs for their giant boilers.

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