Learner’s Submission: Decentralization in India – Solid Waste Management

“Bangalore has been in International News recently, not for its Tech-parks but for its haphazard waste management. Streets and lanes completely littered throughout, Localities surrounding the landfill have refused consent to use the Landfill. The Contractors using the Landfills have not helped the situation by not agreeing to take steps to reduce the bad odors that emanates from the Garbage being carried by compactors and Lorries. Resident Welfare Associations, Community compost pits have been already pushed to limits in terms of capacity and Fears of growing number of Dengue, Chikungunya and malaria have made the Municipal administrator’s task hopeless and tough. There has been talk of bringing in a old-school administrator, Mr. Siddaiah, who was previously shunted out following his rigorous measures to curb corruption in Contracts and tendering processes.

For the purpose of this case-study I have referred to reports released by BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palika), Municipal Body, responsible for administering Bangalore City. The reports referred to – 4th Quarterly report for financial year 2011-12, Solid Waste Management Rules released post notification of rules, FAQs released by BBMP for Solid Waste Management Awareness programme aimed towards Citizens, Details of Waste Collection and Infrastructure/ arrangements made for the purpose. All of the above reports are accessible through BBMP website – http://www.bbmp.gov.in.

A status report based on BBMP master Plan document 2008, Infrastructure for ‘Municipal Solid Waste’ management covers 800 sq. km, 78,000,000 populations (2009), and estimates garbage generation of 3000 tons per day, 350 grams per day per capita. The physical composition of garbage tabulated, with Vegetable, Organic and Plastic on higher range 0.12 to 0.30 out of total index of 1.00 (i.e.; 12% to 30% of total). Chemical composition shows 13% – 40.60% of carbon, 13.80% – 40.90% of moisture, bulk density varying 341 – 491 and calorific Value varying 684.00 – 1240.00. The status report reveals, 70% of municipal solid waste primary collections to disposal have been contracted out, While 30% is being handled through BBMP staff. 4300 sweepers are designated municipal staff and 10000 sweepers are contracted through contractors for door-to-door collection and manual sweeping. While residents of ‘Very Important Persons’ get their surroundings cleaned by mechanical trucks and machines, ordinary citizens get their roads and surroundings cleaned manually by the hired sweepers, the report confesses. The non-segregation of waste is highlighted and used to justify non-segregation at the end disposal stage. Corporate companies contracted for integrated management of municipal solid waste are known to have a total processing capacity of 3600 tons according to the report. Depolymerization technology, use of GPS (global Positioning System), Use of recyclable waste in asphalting of roads are also mentioned.

In area of rajarajeshwarinagara, a total collection varies in between 50% to 70%. The problem of non-segregation is highlighted prominently through a separate heading ‘Mixed Wastes’. The FAQs report has a series of questions which are answered and gives the definition of different categories of wastes. Definitions are very helpful to citizens, as they assist in appropriate segregation at source. The protocol for segregations includes, prominently. Labeling of waste, literally ‘mark menstrual pads and sanitary wastes with a ‘red cross’ after putting it in a newspaper fold’. The Animal poop is to be covered in old paper and labeled by ‘red cross’ on the top, same should be done for loose stools also. Now how many are enthusiastic enough to label their menstrual pads, dog poop, loose stools before discarding? The FAQs also suggests washing up carton boxes and jars, so as to keep it dry of food/organic material, which may attract vermin/pests. A practice that is not yet reconciled with by the majority among the city folk here.

The municipal administration has through sincere commitments to Indian courts and to citizens has undertaken the task of solid waste management with due earnest. Problems however remain in terms of lack of expertise or specialization of the contractors, lack of appropriate technology among the involved companies/contractors, lack of requisite knowledge or skill to ensure clean/Eco-friendly disposal of solid waste. The shortcomings of the contractors and companies involved in solid waste management have brought disrepute to the municipal administration and efforts are on, as far as media reports suggest, correcting the shortcomings. Implementation is partial because of reluctant citizen participation in few places, with time the citizens will cooperate, is our hope.” – Anil Dev Gopalakrishna – Karnataka, India

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