Sewage sludge to enhance soil fertility in Punjab

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Ludhiana, Jan 28 (UNI) The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has launched several projects for the utilisation of industrial effluents and sewage sludge (bio solids) for enhancing the soil fertility in the state.

''Safe disposal of industrial effluents and sewage sludge (bio-solids) and amelioration of river and groundwater pollution are of great concern in Punjab'' Dr V Beri, Head of the Department of Soils of the university said here today while pointing out that these wastes are high in organic content and plant nutrients and could be used to supplement phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen sources and to enhance soil structure and tilth.

Keeping in view the importance of a healthy environment for quality life, the Department of Soils, has carried out several studies. A project on the utilisation of fly-ash from thermal power plants in agriculture sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology of the Central government has been implemented by the university.

Another project in the pipeline is on the utilisation of solid wastes from Coca-Cola industry, Dr Beri said.

Recently, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) sanctioned a project costing Rs 23.81 lakh for the PAU to develop guidelines for application of sewage sludge and sewage water to agricultural land. According to Dr Beri, under this project six treatment plants are to be set up by the PWSSB and the PAU would guide the Board on the safe application of bio wastes to agricultural soil.

Two of these plants, one at Bhattian (Ludhiana) and another at Kapurthala, are operational and four at Jalandhar, Phagwara, Jamalpur (Ludhiana) and Balloke (Ludhiana) are expected to start functioning soon. These treatment plants will be producing large quantity of nutrient rich sludge and treated water that may be utilised for agriculture, Dr Beri added.

The total installed capacity of the six plants is to treat 456 million litres sewage water per day. The treatment plant(s) shall be generating about 274 cubic metre sludge every day, once these become fully operational.

As the PWSSB was facing problem for the safe disposal of sludge and treated sewage water, PAU was approached. The Department of Soils has already generated data about the chemical composition of sewage sludge and sewage water.

Refering to the studies conducted, Dr Beri said sewage water of semi-industrialised cities with not-too-heavy contaminant load can be used safely. However, quality of waste generated from industrialised cities can be highly variable containing heavy metals due to effluents discharge from industries, he added.

The department of Soils has a programme to generate scientific data on the composition and use of sewage sludge and treated and untreated sewage water that will be made available for the PWSSB, he added. Recommendations for the safe and efficient use of sewage sludge and treated sewage water in agriculture will be generated by the university, he added.

Dr Beri said PAU soil scientists engaged in research in the area of environmental pollution are looking for more research collaborations from the private industries and organisations.

Through private partnership, the need-based research programmes can be pursued, he added.

UNI HS DS HT1632

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