Published on 12 March 2018
Soil and underground remediation in India
In October 2017, Witteveen+Bos concluded a framework contract with India-based Kadam Environmental Consultants (Kadam). The company is part of Kadam Group and was founded in 1981 by Mr Ashok P. Kadam. Kadam Group, which currently employs approximately 350 people, is headed by its founder’s two sons: Sameer Ashok Kadam and Sangram Ashok Kadam. Kadam and Witteveen+Bos have been close partners in soil and groundwater remediation projects in India since 2011.
During the first three years of the partnership, Witteveen+Bos and Kadam mainly focused on projects funded by the World Bank and the Indian government. Near the airport of Hyderabad in the south of India, the two companies remediated a heavily polluted lake, together with Tauw and Cowi. The lake water was red as a result of industrial pollution originating from a number of factories around the lake, including from fabric paint manufacturing. Interviews with stakeholders soon made clear that simple remediation would not lead to long-term results – the existing industry had no infrastructure in place for disposing of waste, waste water and contaminated soil and would have no other option but to continue discharging everything in the lake. ‘Our recommendation to the World Bank was to alter the project’, says Sangram Kadam, ‘by completing the industrial infrastructure around the lake first, and then start the actual remediation itself. Witteveen+Bos created a design for a treatment plant that was also capable of treating industrial waste water. So, first of all a system analysis, considering the local context, and then start on a design. The process also involved active participation by stakeholders. We put in extra effort to include our sustainable design principles in the project.’
Innovation and legislation
The two companies also worked with Tauw and Cowi on another World Bank remediation project, involving the dismantling and remediation of a landfill site in Andhra Pradesh, a state in the south of India. Organic matter from the landfill itself was reused to create the topsoil. The project has helped to jumpstart innovative developments in India. ‘Over the past six or seven years, Witteveen+Bos has invested a lot in remediation projects in India’, says Sangram Kadam. ‘We’re now working as an integrated team, forming an ideal blend of knowledge of local circumstances and international experience. That is unique in my professional experience with international companies. Kadam’s main customer base are private parties in the industrial sector, including port operators, oil & gas companies, mining companies, cement manufacturers, energy producers, chemical/petrochemical companies and refineries. Together with Witteveen+Bos, we worked really hard to build a solid position for soil and groundwater remediation in India. Now, the time has come to start applying our knowledge and experience in the private sector. We are currently advising the Indian government about legislation concerning soil and groundwater remediation. Once this legislation is adopted, the number of contracts in this sector will skyrocket.’
SDPs in India
Witteveen+Bos’ sustainable design principles are also applied in India, knowingly or unknowingly. ‘Kadam always involves stakeholders and local residents in its remediation projects’, says Sangram Kadam. ‘We also look at options for renewable energy generation in remediation projects. After all, there’s no lack of sunlight here in India! As for socially responsible design, we created jobs in maintenance of the landfill site for a number of waste pickers (people who live on and make a living from landfill sites). In assignments for private parties, we try to apply on-site soil and groundwater remediation, which will halve the project costs. A poor country like India can’t afford expensive remediation solutions. We have a list of about 330 polluted sites currently known. But it’s the tip of the iceberg – we have more than enough work to do in soil and groundwater remediation in India.’