Sunday, Sep 21, 2014

Mumbai: City of garbage hits a dead end

The dumping ground at Deonar. (IE Photo: Prashant Nadkar) The dumping ground at Deonar. (IE Photo: Prashant Nadkar)
Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Posted: January 22, 2014 4:28 am | Updated: February 6, 2014 2:35 pm

In 2011-12, Mumbai alone accounted for 6.11% of the total waste generated daily in India. As its waste piles up, the
land-starved city is staring at the big question — where to dump? Our reporters look at options.

Of the 1,27,486 tonnes of waste generated daily in India in 2011-12, Mumbai alone accounted for 6.11 per cent. It is estimated that every resident in the metropolis now generates about 630 grams of waste daily, a figure that is expected to touch 1 kg in the coming years. Land-starved that the city is, this leaves its planners with an extremely difficult choice — where to dump?

The predicament, coupled with concerns for high-level emissions of greenhouse gases from the city’s unsanitary landfills and the growth of bacteria that cause life-threatening diseases, has fuelled the prospects of the waste management industry, which has yet to firmly establish itself in India. Estimates suggest that the Rs 60,000-crore industry has the potential to grow at 10-15 per cent a year. Foretelling the latent possibilities of this business, Dr Amiya Sahu, president of National Solid Waste Association of India (NSWAI) and member of the Planning Commission’s task force for Solid Waste Management (SWM), says, “Garbage is money, if handled properly.”

While the quantum of garbage generated by the city is only expected to increase, the infrastructure necessary to manage it is still not in place. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has ambitious plans to process and manage the 7,000-8,000 metric tonnes (MT) of waste generated daily. But since the formulation of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules (management and handling) in 2000, most of these ideas have either failed to take off the drawing board or are poorly implemented today.

CURRENT SITUATION

Environmentalists believe the BMC’s current policies are in violation of MSW Rules, 2000, as the corporation allows compactor trucks to collect mixed waste and fails to penalise buildings that do not segregate waste. In February last year, a circular issued by deputy municipal commissioner (SWM) Prakash Patil stated that by July 2013, the corporation would stop accepting mixed waste and issue legal notices to housing societies that fail to segregate waste at the source.
The big announcement, however, fell flat as the corporation failed to provide vehicles for collecting dry waste from housing societies. Since last year, the corporation has been working on a long-term plan to ensure 100 per cent segregation by March 2015. The plan has yet to be finalised.

“Segregation was widely successful between 1997 and 2004, where the civic body roped in ALMs to encourage composting in an effort to decentralise waste management. But the current policy, of awarding centralised contracts to private companies running compactor trucks and paying a tipping fee to private contractor (the case in Kanjurmarg) for every tonne of waste accepted at the dumpyard, reverses the previous successful policies,” Rishi Aggarwal, a research fellow continued…

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