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Published: 2021-07-06

Techno-commercial Assessment of Concurrent Municipal Brown Field Reclamation Procedures: A Pivotal Case study of Jawahar Nagar Dump Site

ISSN 2769-2051


  • Atun Roy Choudhury Chadwick’s FSM Laboratory, Banka BioLoo Limited, 56. Nagarjuna Hills Road, Punjagutta, Hyderabad, India


Municipal Solid Waste, Legacy dump, Bio-mining, Scientific Capping, Reclamation


The quantity of municipal solid waste (MSW) generation is escalating at an alarming rate with every passing year alongside the modernization of our economy. Unfortunately, the majority of this waste remains uncollected or ends up in open dumping and followed by uncontrolled burning. Citing the deep-rooted consequences, open dumping should be absolutely abandoned and scientific interventions should be aggressively exercised to reclaim the municipal brownfields. The present research work undertook the judicial task of assessing the comparative feasibility of biomining and scientific capping as a technology selection for reclamation of about a decade old 120 million tons of waste chunk laying at Jawahar Nagar dump yard. Primary dump samples were collected from various locations, considering depth as a variable. While leachate and groundwater samples were collected from Malkaram lake and preinstalled borewells receptively. Additionally, the ambient air quality and noise level also been ascertained within the buffer zone. The blended representative solid sample was segregated using a 70 mm mesh size trommel into organic and inorganic fractions. The organic fraction was composted using a lab-scale aerobic static pile composting (ASPC) while the trommel reject was processed as refuse derived fuel (RDF). Evidently, the compost lagged quality and depicted nutrient deficiency. While the burning of RDF produced siloxane gas, significantly due to elevated silicon level in the primary waste. Furthermore, due to the prolonged leaching tenure and seasonal dilution, the concentration of legacy leachate was relatively weaker. Borewell samples collected from a depth of 20 feet also portrayed minor contamination up to 500 meters horizontal radius. The issue of leachability can solely be resolved with the capping of the existing dump and the end product quality derived from the biomining process is highly questionable. Thus, handling such large quantity capping is a befitting option over biomining for Jawahar Nagar dumpsite.  


Presently, in India due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, the generation of MSW has been increasing tremendously and also expected to continue a similar trend in the future (Scott, 1995; Bhat et al., 2017; Sethurajan et al., 2018; Sharma et al., 2018). Annually, the comprehensive urban MSW generation in India is more than 62 million tons. Metro cities are the mammoth contributor of the entire chunk and waste production had already reached an alarming figure of 50,000 tonnes/day. While the waste generation from the tier 2 cities is also rigorously escalating and presently contribute up to 20,000 tones/day (Sharma et al., 2018). A study conducted by the central pollution control board (CPCB) revealed MSW generation in India is increasing at a distressing rate of 5 % per annum with a sharp escalation in the quantities of domestic hazardous waste (Sharma et al., 2018). With major financial constraints, inefficacy of collection, treatment, and disposal incurs further reasons to worry.    

So far India has miserably failed to set up wholesome source segregation and collection method. Presently, the country spends more than 60% of its annual waste management budget only in collection. Besides, only 20% or less of the collected materials are scientifically handled and treated. Citing the statistics, it is evident that the majority of the MSW is simply gets dumped on the low laying grounds located somewhere on the outskirts of the cities. The precipitation, infiltration, surface water runoff, bird menace, rodent interference etc. triggers the vulnerability of waste and leads to mal odor, ground and surface water contamination, human and environmental health deterioration (Jayawardhana et al., 2016). Further, the perseverance of the inorganic and inert fractions leads to soil contamination, poses a fire threat, and also may incur carcinogenicity and acute toxicity among the animals (Mir et al., 2021).

There are numerous techniques for the reclamation and remediation of the dumpsites, includes processes such as capping and closure, in-situ vitrification, sub-surface cut-off walls, and waste biomining (Chakrabarti and Dubey, 2015; Thakare and Nandi, 2016). Waste biomining is a stable way to get rid of the entire range of problems associated with open dumping and reclaim valuable land (Kaksonen et al., 2017). There are several instances including reclamation of Mumbai Gorai dump yard by IL & FS Environment, 70 – 80 years old 12,00,000 tons of dump clearance by Nagar Nigam Indore within a minute span of 3 years and many more. But the process of biomining is highly sensitive and case-specific. The success of the process solely depends on factors such as characteristics of the waste, efficacy of the effective microorganism culture, acceptability of the processed end product at the local market etc. (Jerez, 2017; Banerjee et al., 2017; Venkiteela, 2020). Contrarily, though the scientific capping is not an end-to-end solution but still advisable in the cases where the quantity of waste is gigantic, land scarcity is prevalent, no nearby industries to consume the end products etc. Mehta et al. (2018) have also supported the above claim based on the assessment of locations specific MSW dump reclamation case studies. While in another Nagpur-based case study conducted by Ashootosh et al. (2020) reported the superiority of the biominingprocess over simple land capping due to the favorability of the local conditions. Capping eliminates the environmental interference and thereby reduces biosphere contamination and leachate generation. Further, it captivates rodent and vector breeding and thereby curtails the spreading of communicable diseases and improves aesthetics. But right consolidation through compaction and execution is utmost necessary in the above case. As non-compaction and faulty sloping will easily lead to heavy settlement and slope failure (Berkun et al., 2005; Al-Ghouti et al., 2021).

The present study has been pursued with the primary objective to run a techno-commercial assessment between scientific capping and biomining. While the secondary objective was to ascertain the level of contamination and propose mitigative measures.   

Study Area

Spanning over 350 acres of a precious piece of land at the outskirts of Hyderabad city, Jawahar Nagar dumping yard was brutally utilized by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for open dumping for a prolonged tenure of 10 years. It housed nearly 12 lakh metric tons of heterogeneous solid and domestic hazardous waste and continues polluting until 2015, until the Ramky group was offered to cap the legacy dumping and scientifically handle the site. The present study has been facilitated at Hyderabad Municipal Solid Waste Limited, formerly known as Jawahar Nagar dump yard to analyze and assess the feasibility of bio-mining as handling and management alternate to the existing practice of scientific capping. The epicenter of processing and disposal facility is lying approximately on the cross-section of 17°31'24.45"N and 78°35'23.37"E. As per the contract, the comprehensive legacy dumping to be capped in three phases over about 150 acres of area and Ramky has significantly entered the phase two of the operation only within a span of five years by successfully capping more than half of the legacy footprint.

Sampling Methodology

The waste pile was divided into three layers namely, base, middle, and top. A uniform amount of sample was collected from the successive layers of all five different corners which cover north, south, east, west, and central of the garbage pile. Sampling inspections were performed using a manual auger besides large samples were collected using a JCB excavator. The top six-inch layer of the pile was removed to avoid any contamination while collecting the samples and 5-10 kg of sample was collected from each of the locations. Further, intermediate and bottom layer samples were collected by digging a 500 mm diameter hole through the heap. A composite was prepared by a homogenized blending of all the fifteen grub samples. The blend was distributed into four equal quadrants and the top and bottom quadrants were eliminated diagonally while the left-over quadrants were mixed thoroughly. This process was repeated until a sample of the required bulk of 20 kg is obtained.    

Surface and subsurface water samples from borewell were collected in and around the facility. Piezometric monitoring borewells located near the landfills were utilized for the subsurface sample collection. While a rainwater pond turned leachate lake named Malkaram was determined as the primary source for leachate collection. Buffer samples were collected from Ambedkar Nagar, the nearby colony exiting at a distance of only 300 meters.  

Lab-scale Experimentation 

The representative sample was characterized for composition and further screened through a 70 mm mesh size trommel. The trommel permeate was considered as the organic fraction while the reject was mostly inorganics and inert. The organics were subjected to ASPC. The quantity of the air required is arrived using the method delineated below (Figure 1).

MSW Pile size: 2m x 0.5m x 0.5m

Volume of pile: 0.5 m3

Average Density of MSW: 620 Kg/m3

Weight of pile: 310 Kg

Nitrogen required for matured compost: 9300 mg/kg dry

: 9300 X 310 mg

: 2.88 x 106 mg

: 2.88 Kg

Total air required: 2.88 x 100/76 [as Nitrogen in air is 76% by weight]

: 3.79 Kg of dry air

: 3.79/1.225 m3 [@ 15 deg C density of air 1.225 kg/m3]

: 3.1 m3

This air is to be supplied for 100 min / day for 0.5 m pile

Air flow rate required: 3.1 x 60/100 = 1.86 m3/h (for practical purpose a flowrate of 2 m3/h was maintained).  

The maturation period was considered as 28 days and post-maturation, the stabilized material was further cured for 24 hours and screened using 12 mm and 4 mm trommel respectively to obtain the desired product quality and particle size.

Whereas, the trommel reject was evenly spreader on the copper trays and dried in an oven at 1050C for 2 hours. The dried material was micronized to the size of 50 mm or below using a scissor and inert such as glass, sand, stone etc. were segregated manually (Mohan and Joseph, 2020).

Concurrently, a bench-scale capped landfill prototype was built using the below-mentioned procedure to evaluate the factors such as settlement and slope stability. A 30 mm thick low permeable soil was laid on the top of the waste, followed by a 60 mm layer of compacted clay liner (CCL). Each join between successive liner material was closely monitored. A 1.5 mm thick HDPE liner was placed on the top of the CCL. A 285 GSM geotextile membrane was placed as the successive above layer followed by a 15 mm thick drainage media layer. A further layer of geotextile membrane was placed on top of the drainage media for better stabilization, grip, and strength. The top vegetative soil layer of 45 mm thickness was laid off on top of the geotextile media and St. Augustine grass was rooted (Cortellazzo et al., 2020; Ashford et al., 2000).

2.4 Sample Analysis

pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC) and Turbidity of the samples were analyzed using pH, EC-TDS, and Nephelometer of Mettler Toledo. The pH meter was calibrated with the buffer solution of 4.0, 7.0 & 9.12 at a controlled temperature. EC-TDS meter was calibrated with 0.1 M KCL having 12.8 mS/cm of conductivity. Nephelometer was calibrated with Formazine solution of 10 & 100 NTU. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), (mg/L) was performed using the gravimetric method at 1800C in the oven.

 Titrimetric parameters such as Total Alkalinity as CaCO3 (mg/L), Total Hardness as CaCO3 (mg/L), Chloride as Cl- (mg/L), Calcium as Ca2+ (mg/L), Residual Free Chlorine (RFC), (mg/L) were analyzed using APHA (American Public Health Associations) method, 23rd Edition, 2017. Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (mg/L) and Ammonical Nitrogen (mg/L) were performed through distillation followed by titration with H2SO4 as a titrant. Sulphide as S2- was done with the Iodometric method after distillation. Each titrimetric parameter was analyzed in triplicate after standardizing the titrant with required reagents and crossed checked by keeping a check standard.

Sodium as Na (mg/L) and Potassium as K (mg/L) were performed using Flame Photometer. The photometer was calibrated with different standards from 10 to 100 (mg/L) standard solutions. The leachate sample was diluted enough to get the value within the standard range and cross-checked with check standards at the same time.

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), (mg/L) was performed using the open reflux method for 2 hours at 1500C in COD Digestor. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), (mg/L) was performed using the alkali iodide azide method for 3 days. The samples were kept in a BOD incubator at 270C for 3 days. It was kept in duplicate to have a check on quality control.

Sulphate was analyzed by the gravimetric method instead of turbidimetric or through UV-Visible spectrophotometer as its concentration was found more than 40 mg/L. Nitrate as NO3- was analyzed after filtration at 220-275 nm, while Hexavalent Chromium as Cr6+ was analyzed at 540 nm in the UV-Vis. Parameters like Cyanide as CN-, Fluoride as F-, and Phenolic Compounds were gone through a distillation process followed by UV-Vis. The distillation process ensures the removal of interferences presents either positive or negative. For the parameters like Total Iron or Ferric Iron, the samples were digested properly with the required reagents on the hot plate before analyzing in UV-Vis.

For the metal analysis the water samples were digested at a temperature of 1000C using aqua regia as a media. The samples were digested to one-fourth of the volume on a hot plate. The recommended wavelengths as per APHA 3120 B were selected for each of the metals. The standard graph was plotted for each of the metals before analysis and crossed checked with the check standard at the same time.

Parameters such as bulk density and particle size were performed through the certified beaker and sieve. The percentage of moisture content was estimated using the oven by keeping the compost sample for 2 hours at 1050C. C/N ratio was estimated through CHNS analyzer keeping sulfanilamide as a check standard. The analysis was performed by extracting the desired component in the desired solution prescribed in the method followed by converting the same from mg/L to mg/Kg.


An exhaustive bench-study has been pursued and real-time samples were collected and analyzed for all possible parameters to determine the pros and cons attributed to both processes. The investigation begins by collecting the samples and concluded by impact assessment studies inclusive of the buffer zone. Both solid, liquid, and gaseous samples were precisely investigated to opt for the best solution. A detailed finding of the investigation is summarized below. 

Primarily, the representative solid sample was characterized through a manual separation process and the results are portrayed in Figure 1. 

Compost Characterization

ASPC of the organic fraction has resulted in a recovery of 46.7% of the initial load. While 53.3% of the influent mass were inert and barely degradable fraction contributes to reject, the rest 4.1% is miscellaneous process loss. The processed compost was extensively analyzed including for metal contamination and the same is tabulated in Table 1. 

The value of C/N ratio, OC, TN, K2O, P2O5, and NPK evidently portrays the shortcoming in terms of nutrient availability. Though it is highly enriched in organic carbon and thus the same can be effectively utilized as a soil preconditioner. Ayilara et al. (2020) also reported a similar finding, where the city compost sourced from MSW lagged major plant nutrients.    

RDF Characterization

Processed trommel rejects constitute cloth, rexine, leather, jute, paper, plastics, coir and other inert contributed to RDF. The fraction of inert was as high as 37.2% of the overall RDF mass and it mostly constituted glass and sand. The combined weight of sand and glass fragments contributed 73.5% of the total inert, while the rest was stone and small brickbats. The higher level of silicon associated with the presence of glass and sand yielded siloxane and triggered the possibility of kiln corrosion. A detailed RDF analysis report is enclosed in Table 2.  

The values explicitly portray the quality of RDF is moderately lower and higher salts concentration is extremely prevalent. With relatively lower NCV and such high salt concentration, the above specimen will certainly pose a corrosion threat to the kiln and shall be either neglected as kiln feed or can be utilized after dilution with Grade III RDF quality. Further, such high ash generation will also induct high transportation and landfill charges. 

 Leachate Characterization

The Malkaram leachate lake is the end result of prolonged, slow, and steady mixing of the legacy leachate through the existing fissure cracks in the sheath rock bottom profile. Apparently, the concentration of leachate is significantly lower due to the dilution. Samples were analyzed in triplicates and the mean value is tabulated here in Table 3. 

The metal concertation and rest of the parameter values are well within the secondary treatment influent range, except for TDS. Thus, a modular aerobic biological treatment unit such as moving bed biofilm bioreactor (MBBR) or membrane bioreactor (MBR) would be a well-suited pick. However, a reverse osmosis (RO) system needs to be installed to get rid of the high TDS content. The permeate of RO can be reused back into the system. Whereas, the reject can be converted into dried powder through forced evaporation mechanisms. The higher concentration of salts in RDF collaterally justifies the elevated TDS level in leachate. In a leachate impact assessment study performed by El-Salam and Abu-Zuid (2015) the reported BOD/COD ratio of 0.69 is greater than double the value of 0.301 reported in Table 3. Though the difference in both the values are quite high, it is relatable and justifiable by the huge age difference of the source waste. The primarily characterized data is of a fresh leachate generated from regular MSW, while the later one is from a decade old waste that barely has any unstabilized organic content.         

Groundwater Contamination

The obvious reason for downward leachate infiltration and osmotic movement facilitates groundwater contamination. Both surface and subsurface water samples were collected within the dump yard and the buffer zone and analyzed using the standard methods. The results are portrayed in Table 4.   

The slightly alkaline pH of the borewell sample is an indication of the ongoing anaerobic process. The dissolved oxygen value of 3.5 mg/L further validates the correlation. Higher TDS and hardness values are self-indicative of elevated salt concentration in source waste. Eventually, the same interfered with the RDF quality. Positively in the case of all the parameters, a successive decrement in pollution concentration has been spotted from dump ground towards the buffer zone. In a similar study conducted by Singh et al. (2016) at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh the reported concentration of the parameters is significantly higher than reported in Table 4. The basic reason behind variation is the dissimilarities of the local soil profile. The sandy and clay loam soil profile of Varanasi allows a greater rate of percolation and infiltration. While the bottom sheath rock profile at Jawahar Nagar permits the only a minute to little percolation rate. The difference in percolation rate is directly correlated to the concentration levels in this case. Contrarily, Kurakalva et al. (2016) have reported much-elevated pollutant concertation both in ground and surface water for a study conducted at the same site in 2016. The higher concentration is relatable to the fact of the non-closure of the open dump back then. Capping activity had at Jawahar Nagar gained its pace 2018 onwards and capping for the primary section of 70 acres got concluded only during mid of 2019. Due to the decrement in runoff and percolation, the quality of both surface and subsurface water has improved drastically.       

Impact Assessment

The odor and groundwater contamination are two of the primary issues that triggered a massive public agitation initially. The root causes of both the issues are identified as rainwater percolation and anaerobic digestion respectively. Eventually, the completion of the capping process would resolve both the problems effectively. Other non-tangential impacts include nausea; headache; irritation of the eye, nasal cavity, and throat; diarrhoeal diseases; vector-borne disease, cattle toxicity etc. Scientific capping can easily cater as the wholesome solution for all (Cortellazzo et al., 2020). Yu et al. (2018) had performed an extensive study to comprehend the relativity of respiratory sickness and MSW borne air pollution. The study made a couple of dreadful revelations such as gases released due to the anaerobic digestion of MSW such as methane, hydrogen sulphide, and ammonia incur detrimental impact on Lysozyme and secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA). While SO2 was reported as the lung capacity and functionality reducer. Further, a gender-specific study executed by the same research group revealed, air pollution impacts more severely on male children than the female and retards immune functions. 

Presently, the area of 351 acres has been developed as Asia’s one of the largest state of the art municipal solid waste processing and disposal facility by Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited. This ensured zero dumping and no further environmental interventions. As legal compliance, the facility monitors the quality of groundwater and ambient air quality in and around the facility on monthly basis to assure the biosafety. The variation in concentration of various monitoring parameters between 2012 to 2020 is summarized in Figure 2.

The concentration of each of the parameters are showcased in ppm and a standard equipment error was settled at 3% for respirable dust sampler and multi-gas analyzer (Taheri et al., 2014). Despite all parameter values have gradually increased except for methane, the facility still managed to maintain them well under the regulatory limits. The decrement in methane concentration is directly correlated to the practice of aerobic composting and aeration-based secondary treatment that prevented the formation of the anaerobic atmosphere and henceforth methane generation. While for the rest of the parameters the increment in values is quite substantial and predictable due to the sudden escalation in MSW generation in the past decade in correlation with Gross domestic product (GDP) enhancement. The observed and interpreted impacts due to the elevated pollutant level are in-line with the georeferenced findings reported by Deshmukh and Aher (2016) based on a study conducted at Sangamner, Maharashtra.         


The study critically analyzed and investigated every techno-environmental and socio-economic aspect correlated to open dumping. The bench-scale experimentation revealed the efficiency of the single liner scientific capping is fair enough to eliminate any further rainwater infiltration, however, it has no control over the generation of leachate due to the inherent moisture. Internal moisture related issue was anyhow compensated with pertinent compaction prior to dispose of the waste. Contrarily, both the products derived through the biomining process namely, compost and RDF lagged quality due to scantier nutrient content and higher salt and silicon content respectively. Besides, impact assessment studies concede the pollutant concentration in groundwater in and around the plant has drastically diminished post-July 2019 due to the partial completion of waste capping. It also abetted lowering the dust and odor issues relatively in the surrounding.                  


The authors would like to sincerely acknowledge GHMC, Hyderabad Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Limited, and Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited for enabling us to pursue the sample collection and other necessary onsite activities. Further, the authors would like to register profound acknowledgment to EPTRI for supporting us with the essential experimental facilities.     


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