A group of students passionate about environmental conservation from Karimganj College, Assam, took the initiative in 2014 and visited the municipal dumping site of Silchar town area to understand the urban waste management scenario, a key problem in India.
The team, comprising Late Mr. Rahul Das and Mr. Gaurav Roy, who is now associated with the Voice of Environment (VoE), a youth-based non-governmental organization based in Guwahati, Assam, led the pilot study involving sampling of groundwater and soil samples. The preliminary study was done under the scholarly guidance of Mr. Moharana Choudhury, an environmentalist from Assam, Dr. Dibakar Deb, Head of Chemistry Department in Karimganj College, and Dr. Sumita Paul Purkayastha, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry.
The study was followed by detailed data analysis and stakeholder engagement programs, including community sensitization and mobilization. The team was further enriched by the scholarly expertise and peerless supervision of eminent scientist Prof K G Bhattacharya, Department of Chemistry, Gauhati University, Assam. Other members include Dr. Darpa Saurav Jyethi, Assistant Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, North-East Centre, Tezpur, Assam; Dr. Joystu Dutta, Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Environmental Sciences, Sant Gahira Guru Vishwavidyalaya, Sarguja, Chhattisgarh, and Tirthankar Sen, an M.Tech student of Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Assam.
One of the authors of the study, Late Mr. Rahul Das, lost his life during a road accident in Guwahati in the year 2016. The research team was actively helped during sampling by local social worker Mr. Prabal Dutta and members of the organization ‘Voice of Environment’ based in Assam, India. The research findings were finally published in the International Journal of Energy and Water Resources, Springer, on March 4, 2021.
The study indicates the impact of the municipal waste disposal site on trace element contamination levels in soil and groundwater. The soil was found to be ‘extremely contaminated’ with respect to the geo-accumulation index. The observations indicate the impacts of nearby dumpsite on environmental parameters, such as groundwater and soil quality. There is a need for more monitoring studies so that the data can be used to suggest the best sustainable environmental management practices for addressing waste management in emerging towns and cities in the North-Eastern Region of India.