Shillong: The villagers of Nongkynjeng in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills now have a durable road built of plastic waste and bitumen. They owe it to Padma Shri Rajagopalan Vasudevan from Tamil Nadu . His technology has made their road more durable and offered Meghalaya a solution to the growing problem of plastic waste. This is the first such road in the Northeast region, where roads get damaged often owing to floods and landslides.
The one kilometre long road was built by mixing shredded plastic waste with heated bitumen, a technology developed by Coimbatore-based Vasudevan years ago.
The road was built under the Meghalaya Livelihoods and Access to Markets Projects (Megha-Lamp) and MGNREGS. The Megha-Lamp project was launched in September 2015 to provide access to markets and value chains to enhance livelihood of farmers.
More than 1-lakh km roads in at least 11 states have been constructed by using the technology, patented in 2006.
“We have used 470 kg plastic waste like polythene carry bags, plastic cups, chips packets and foam packaging for the road. The waste was collected from the district headquarters Nongstoin and Shillong. We spent only Rs 33 lakh for the one kilometre road. If all roads in Meghalaya are built using this technology, we can get rid of the plastic menace,” West Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Arunkumar Kembhavi stated, adding that the road was as good quality as any national highway.
“According to a World Economic Forum report, plastic can make roads more durable against changing weather – floods, extreme heat and cold. It has less water-absorbing capacity than normal roads meaning no cracks, potholes or craters. They are stronger and maintenance-free and last about three times as long as a conventional road. It also reduces the quantity of bitumen used,” Kembhavi said.
Two more roads – Nonglwai I and Nonglwai II – are also being built with the same technology, which are likely to be completed by the end of this month, he said.
Vasudevan, a chemistry professor from Madurai, used finely-shredded plastic waste, a technology which generated much interest in Japan and China. But he chose to gift the technology to te country.