How the Army is undertaking waste disposal at the strategically significant Siachen?

Published: September 26, 2019

The Army has removed more than 130 tonnes of garbage from the Siachen and is cutting potential trash in rations to ensure the waste mounds are completely eliminated.

Waste Accumulation in Siachen

Over 236 tonnes of waste is generated on an average every year on Siachen glacier. Earlier the waste disposal work was fragmented and intermittent.

Removal of Waste Mounds

  • The biggest challenge was the high altitude as most posts were located between 18,000 and 21,000 feet. Since nothing degrades at sub-zero temperatures everything had to be brought down.
  • Based on a 2018 concept note on waste management, the Army has made it mandatory to bring down waste as part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for troops.
  • The SOP put in place mandates every link patrol or administrative column to bring the waste down. The capacity of each person to carry is limited to 10-15 kg due to the extreme weather.
  • The Army is making efforts are on to increase the disposal rate to 100 tonnes a year.
  • The army is also looking to cut waste in the rations and utilities delivered on the glacier.
  • About 130 tonnes have been disposed of since the SOP put in place. It includes 48.4 tonnes of biodegradable garbage, 40.32 tonnes of non-biodegradable, non-metallic waste and 42.45 tonnes of metallic scrap.
  • The Army has even collaborated with the civil administration and barrels have been painted and set up in villages around to segregate waste.

Disposal of Wastes

  • Different types of wastes are disposed of differently. Biodegradable waste consisting of cartons and packets are rolled using baling machines.
  • The non-biodegradable, non-metallic wastes are burned up in the three incinerators set up at Siachen base camp, Partapur, and near Bukdang village, at 10,000 feet.
  • This incinerator produces only fumes and ash and does not produce carbon Monoxide. The ash is used as manure.
  • Army has set up three extrication centres for metallic wastes and is planning to procure industrial crushers to crush it and send it down.

The Army is planning to make Siachen garbage-free in the coming 12-15 years. Sustainable Waste management forms a key aspect in ensuring the operational preparedness to undertake combat operations in such terrain and weather conditions.

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