Plastic is Fantastic

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Patna is facing the heat of both the summer and political battle with respect to upcoming election. However, I am concerned about the rainy season which will follow this summer. I shudder remembering the plight in past years caused because of poor drainage system of the city. I am not even hopeful like previous years since I resided here long enough to understand that the promises done by various elected or selected bodies are just like filthy water clogging on roads which evaporate when sun shines.

My worries are authenticated by a recent report published by World Health Organisation (WHO) which has mentioned Patna as the second most polluted city of India. The list was topped by Delhi. What surprise me about Patna is that it is so polluted and dirty without any significant development or industrialization.

It is a common sight to find empty plastic bags and other type of plastic packing material littering the stripping, battered, and broken roads as well as open and filthy drains. In fact plastic in different forms is found to be almost 5% in municipal solid waste, which is toxic in nature. Due to its biodegradability it creates stagnation of water and associated hygiene problems, and gives nightmare to residents during rainy season. There has not been any initiatives municipal corporation to re-use plastic wastages, either they burn or dump it in landfills and both degrade environment.

Both problems of poor road infrastructure and abundant plastic can be solved if one problem becomes solution of the other. Simply, government needs to construct plastic roads extensively—the roads constructed using waste plastic rather than costly bitumen (an oil based substance). Plastic roads mainly use plastic carry-bags, disposable cups and bottles collected from garbage dumps as an important ingredient of the construction material.

Plastic roads are already gaining popularity in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It offers advantages of increased strength, better resistance to water, elimination of stripping and consequent formation of potholes, and low construction cost; due to all these maintenance cost for plastic road is almost nothing. In addition, it generates jobs for rag pickers.

Plastic can be Fantastic if government has a better policy to manage solid waste of the city and then Lalu Prasad’s old promise of making the city road as smooth as Hema malini’s cheek will not be a sarcasm but reality.

Postdoctoral Fellow
Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland

Dr. Siddharth Suman is a freelancer writing especially on societal issues, science, and education in both Hindi and English for various online media houses. In addition, he loves to write poetry and short story for the expression of personal emotions and thoughts. His poetry book titled 'Evaporating Soul — between love and life' may be read at Kindle.


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