A pilot project by the Indian Army’s Military Engineer Services (MES) has led to Guwahati’s first road built out of plastic waste material. The road — a 1 km stretch — is situated within the city’s Narangi Military Station and was completed on November 16. “This is the first time in any military station that waste plastic was used to build a road,” says Lt Col P Khongsai, Public Relation Officer (Defence), Guwahati. The plan is to ascertain how durable the road is before replicating the model in other military stations of India.
Earlier this month, under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), 45km out of a 75km road was built using 37,260 kg of plastic weight in Goalpara district, making it Assam’s first plastic waste road. The road by the MES — which provides engineering support to the Armed Forces stationed in rear-line areas — uses 1.24 MT of waste plastic.
“In this technology, the road is constructed by mixing shredded plastic waste with heated bitumen. This is a green technology, which aims to reduce menace of plastic waste at one hand and improve the durability of the roads on the other” states the official press statement from the PRO (Defence), Guwahati.
“Research for this started about 4-5 months ago,” says Col Khongsai, “Since this is a pilot project, a detailed report of it is being sent to the MES headquarters. If found to be effective and durable, it will be carried out across the country in various cantonments and military stations.”
The Army’s move towards building such roads is in line with PM Narendra Modi’s campaign against single-use plastic. “The project to use plastic in road building is an initiative to reduce, reuse and recycle waste plastic. The road constructed using waste plastic lasts longer, is cheaper to build and maintain and significantly reduces the amount of plastic going into our oceans and landfills” reads the statement.
However, in the Northeast, building roads out of plastic waste backdates PM Modi’s clarion call. In 2018, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma had issued instructions to build the state’s first plastic road in Nongstoin in West Khasi Hills (spearheaded by DC West Khasi Hills Arun Kumar Kembhavi). Thereafter, several more roads in Nongstoin in 2018 and Tura (Sangma’s home constituency) in 2019 were built in Meghalaya.