Promise after promise as zero garbage idea gets pushed into dustbin

Plans to fix civic challenges: Some hits and many misses.

Written by Stuti Shukla | Mumbai | Published: January 23, 2012 3:54:21 am

The solid waste management department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has been battling apathy of a large section of population in Mumbai that refuses to show civic sense,at the individual level or at the level of industries and businesses that dump waste in a haphazard manner. But even as the department can list the successful closure of the Gorai dumping ground and a three-fold jump in garbage collection points in the city as major achievements in five years,there are several issues that work against making the streets free of garbage.

The BMC spends about Rs 300 crore a year for garbage collection and disposal. There are 5,800 garbage bins across 3,700 collection spots in the city and 1,100 vehicles to collect and transport about 6,500 tonne waste generated to dumping grounds every day. Over 27,000 conservancy workers and contractors lift the garbage and deposit it at the Deonar dumping ground. The total expenditure incurred by the SWM department has doubled from Rs 692 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 1,219 crore in 2010-11.

Skewed Dumping

The scientific closure of the Gorai dumping ground was completed in 2009. It may have been a boon for residents of Malad and surrounding areas but after the Gorai closure,5,500 tonne waste is dumped at the Deonar facility that had already overflowed its capacity in the early 1990s. About 1,000 tons is being dumped at Mulund,which will also be closed soon. The project for partial closure of the Deonar dumping ground is limping because of the additional load even as charges of corruption in handing over the project to United Phosphorus Ltd have been raised repeatedly in the BMC standing committee after it was rejected by consultants.

Chief engineer (SWM) B P Patil said that partial closure can happen only if garbage dumped does not cross 2,000 tonne. The Kanjurmarg’s scientific landfill facility that will take 4,000 tonnes of daily waste has been delayed by over five years due to CRZ clearances. “Once the facility is completed in the next five months,Deonar dumping ground will be partially closed,” said Patil.

Rajkumar Sharma,an activist from Chembur,said that BMC does not manage waste at the ground causing pollution and health problems for residents of Chembur,Doenar and Mankhurd. Sharma said,“The smoke generated from the bio-medical waste incinerator has increased fear of cancer in our area. Why is it that all dumping is happening in the eastern suburbs?” Thirty-five tonne of biomedical waste is generated every day.

Segregation failure

The Shiv Sena’s 2007 manifesto promised that the BMC will ensure that waste is segregated at the household level and recyclable dry waste is recycled. However,this has largely failed not only due to the civic body’s inadequacy,but also because of lack of awareness among citizens. As per Municipal Solid Waste Rules,2006,the BMC can fine housing societies and commercial establishments for not segregating wet and dry waste,but no fines have been levied so far. The latest survey carried out by BMC in September last year showed that only 30 per cent of the housing societies across the city are segregating their waste. This is also concentrated only in a few wards such as Chembur,Khar,Bandra and Kandivali,which are high on civic activism. They segregate about 1,500 kg of waste everyday.

Sharma said the BMC has only one dumper per ward to collect dry waste. “Each ward generates anywhere between 200 tonne to 400 tonne garbage everyday,of which 15 per cent is usually dry. BMC has appointed an NGO in each ward which has only one dumper to collect so much dry waste,” he said.

Dustbin ‘Eyewash’

In November 2010,BMC had raised eyebrows by acquiring 1,400 community dustbins at a cost of Rs 28,800 per dustbin. There are already 5,800 such bins installed at 3,700 collection spots in the city,up from 1,300 in 2007. The house-to-house collection has increased from 20 per cent to 58 per cent in the last four years. Even as the Sena announced the Zero Garbage drive and earmarked Rs 156 crore for it in the current budget,many have pointed out its failure. BJP corporator Bhalchandra Shirshat said,“The drive was an eyewash since there was no increase in frequency of dumper trips during this period,” he said.

Meanwhile,the promise to acquire mechanical sweepers and safety gear for conservancy workers has also not been fulfilled.

Return of Marshals

Introduced in 2008 to prevent littering by giving rights to clean-up marshals to fine violators came under fire and the move was scrapped after allegations of corruption and use of force by the marshals. The scheme was reintroduced in July last year after the powers of marshals were curbed. Bio-medical waste was removed from their purview as most marshals,eyeing incentives, targeted only hospitals,as the fine for bio-medical waste was the highest at Rs 20,000.

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