Meghalaya to have bitumen-plastic roads

Shillong: In a first-of-its-kind in the north-eastern region, bitumen and waste plastic will be used in road construction in Shillong using a technology known for its durability, especially in extreme weather conditions.

To start with a four-km stretch in Jhalupara area of the city, which gets damaged every year due to heavy rains, will be re-constructed by Shillong Cantonment Board at an estimated cost of Rs 30 lakh.

Chief executive officer of the board, S Prabhakaran, told agency that the board is approaching R Vasudevan, the patented owner of the technology who heads the chemistry department at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai.

Asked about the cost of the new construction, Prabhakaran said it will be the same as of conventional bitumen mix but will have a longer lifespan.

"To lay one km of plastic road 3.75 m wide, 9 tonnes of bitumen and 1 tonne of waste plastic are required for coating. A normal road requires 10 tonnes bitumen for each kilometre. So a plastic road saves 1 tonne bitumen for every kilometre laid. Each tonne of bitumen costs Rs 50,000 to 60,000," he said.

The Board is planning to use waste and confiscated plastic bags for the purpose after the Meghalaya government imposed a blanket ban on the use of plastic bags.

"To begin with, we will use the confiscated plastic bags. But for the remaining quantity the board will have to buy plastic waste," he said.

Meghalaya State Planning Board vice chairman, John F Kharshiing, had earlier suggested that the state government should tap the modern method of laying more durable all weather roads in the state in the wake of the climatic condition.

Meghalaya receives average annual rainfall as high as 1200 cm in some areas.