- 2,600 tonnes of biodegradable waste is disposed of per day in Chattogram
- The waste can be converted into up to 10 tonnes of fertiliser
- Currently, CCC garbage treatment plant produces about 1 tonne of fertiliser a day
- Two types of fertilisers, dry and wet, are processed at the plant
- Most of the machines at the plant are in dilapidated conditions
The vast potential to produce fertiliser from organic waste in Chattogram city remains largely untapped because of poor infrastructure and a lack of initiatives of the city corporation.
Residents of the port city dispose of some 2,600 tonnes of biodegradable waste per day, which can be converted into fertiliser in quantities of up to 10 tonnes, according to people concerned.
But inadequate infrastructure facilities at the garbage treatment plant of the city corporation are hindering the production of any significant amount of fertiliser, they added.
During the tenure of late mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury, a "garbage treatment plant" project was undertaken, which produced some fertiliser. As part of the project, the Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) first began producing "wooden fuel" in 2007, but that has since been discontinued.
After this, the treatment plant started processing coconut husk, which also ended up by the wayside after a while.
Now the treatment plant produces about one tonne of organic fertiliser a day from kitchen waste. Two types of fertilisers, dry and wet, are processed at the plant.
On a recent visit to the CCC's Halishahar garbage plant, this correspondent discovered that most of the machines were in dilapidated conditions and no longer functional.
There are 16 boxes for composting at the treatment plant, and each box can hold one tonne of garbage. Each day, they fill up one box and produce one ton of fertiliser for commercial purposes. It takes 45 days for the waste to decompose, and after that, the waste is processed to make fertiliser.
10 more boxes were made during Mayor Monjur Alam's tenure in 2010, but due to lack of space for parking and drying, the boxes are yet to be engaged for production.
The mechanical department of the CCC currently handles the fertiliser project. Dealers collect fertiliser from the plant to use for gardening at a cost of Tk10 per kg. On average, the plant produces 10-15 tonnes of fertiliser every month.
CCC sources say they produce less fertiliser at the plant as demand is low.
CCC's Supervisory Engineer Sudip Basak told The Business Standard, "We will continue the project to the best of our ability, and our mayor is enthusiastic about the treatment plant."
With no particular guidelines for the garbage treatment plant, the department sometimes has to deal with legal issues which also contribute to the failure of the project.
Having no garbage treatment plants, the two landfills of the CCC are already overloaded with waste, and cause air pollution. People from slums go there to look for plastic and other recyclable items and often end up with various health problems.
A landfill in Chattogram could provide a resource for the city, just like other countries using garbage to produce energy and biogas, said Mohammad Abdur Rahman, director of the Centre for People and Environment (CPE).
Rahman who researches the health and adaptation of migrants noted that garbage landfills provide an income for rootless people but exposes them to many health risks as well.
Instead of only filling up the landfill, the CCC could introduce a few pilot or short-term projects to treat the garbage, he suggested.
Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury, general secretary of Shusashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), Chattogram unit, says the CCC has no accountability for its actions and the authorities simply neglect their waste management responsibilities.
The CCC has restricted the right of citizens to live in a clean city, he said, adding that they should consider new ideas and innovations on how to manage the large quantity of garbage the city produces every day.
Meanwhile, the CCC cited lack of workers, infrastructure, and budget, as reasons for the failure to meet its responsibilities.