EVEN AS the nation marks the third anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission on Monday, Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad — where the BJP is in the saddle — seem to be struggling to remain clean and green what with garbage collection and disposal continuing to gnaw both the civic bodies. On Sunday, the garbage problem in the PMC area came under focus again as a group of local corporators and residents intensified the protest against a new garbage plant proposed by the civic body at Ramtekdi. They also closed down work at the proposed site and demanded that the plant be shifted to some other area outside Hadapsar, alleging the present dispensation was planning to make Hadapsar the “garbage capital of the city”.
Among those who protested were NCP’s Yogesh Sasane, who also heads the Hadapsar Ward Committee, former MLA Mahadev Babar and former minister Balasaheb Shivarkar. The protesters demanded that instead of investing more money and “increasing the sufferings” of residents of the locality, the PMC should make sure all the established plants work and they work at full capacity. According to them, if the existing plants work at full capacity, the city wouldn’t need a new plant. They said the city produced a total of 1,800-2,000 tons of garbage per day but claimed processing capacity of 1,650 TPD (ton per day) was not being utilised due to non-functional plants or plants working at below capacity. The processing capacity of the proposed plant at Ramtekdi is 750 TPD.
“As per information provided by the PMC in response to my question in the House, several waste processing plants are closed due to one or the other reason. These plants include major waste disposal units, biogas plants, mechanical composting units, organic waste conversion units, segregation and compost making projects situated in various areas,” Sasane said. Sasane said if only three major plants are considered, namely Hanger Biotech in Uruli Devachi (capacity 1,000 tons per day, presently closed), Rochem Separation at Ramtekdi (capacity 700 TPD, presently running at 300 TPD), Nobel Exchange Environment (capacity 300, present processing 50 TPD); it’s clear that 1,650 tons per day capacity is lying idle.
“I have made it known to the authorities that we are left with only two options. One, we can stop all movement of the garbage vans that use the Pune-Solapur Road and pass from our locality to pressure the PMC to stop the project. The other option is to file a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court pleading the court to stop this projects, which is an injustice on the residents of Hadapsar,” said Sasane. Suresh Jagtap, Additional Commissioner in-charge of Solid Waste Management, said the agitations wouldn’t affect the work and talks with elected representatives and locals will be undertaken by higher authorities simultaneously. He also maintained that majority of plants were functional.
“Almost 85 per cent plants are working. Only a few are closed due to some technical issues or because of protests by the locals,” said Jagtap. Like the PMC, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation too is struggling to get its act together vis-a-vis keeping the industrial city spic and span. But civic officials assert that in the next two-three months all hurdles will be overcome and Pimpri-Chinchwad “will be one of the cleanest cities of the country”. Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar on Sunday told this paper that they were going systematically in ensuring total cleanliness of the city. “Currently, we are facing problems on the collection of garbage door to door and also on the sweeping front,” he said.
Explaining the irritants, Hardikar said the fleet for collection of garbage across the town had become old and, therefore, it could not respond to the rising complaints of piling up of garbage. “If garbage is not collected for two-three days, then it turns into a mountain and people start complaining. This has been happening for some time,” he said. However, Hardikar said now they have floated a tender for appointing contractors for collection of waste door to door. “We have divided the city into two divisions and from November or latest by December, the door-to-door collection will restart. We are looking at behavioural change among the residents wherein they will help us in segregation of dry and wet waste at source. We have already provided them with two different buckets for the purpose,” the PCMC chief said, adding that in next two-three months Pimpri-Chinchwad will be on top on cleanliness front.
Hardikar said as regards sweeping of roads and areas, the civic administration faced problems as they had to terminate the services of several defaulting contractors. “We are in the process of appointing new contractors and soon the system will be in place,” he said. About open defecation free city, Hardikar said Pimpri-Chinchwad was 99 per cent ODF. “We have covered all known spots where we have built adequate number of community toilets. There are some unknown spots which are on the outskirts of the city and they too would be covered soon,” he said.
Hardikar said they have mapped slums, especially in areas like Red Zone. “We have ensured that slums get community toilets wherever possible or helped them build individual toilets,” he said. The PCMC chief scotched speculations the Moshi garbage dumping site had run out of space. “There are sanitary landfill sites at Moshi of which only one has been scientifically closed… we are aiming at 80 per cent processing of waste and are in the process of setting up of waste energy plant and construction and debris plant there,” he said. Civic activists are far from being convinced from the steps take by PCMC. “If you go around town, mountains of garbage can be found in every locality. PCMC can’t take refuge under the plea that it was in the process of hiring contractors. It should have done this much before,” said activist D G Baliga.
Activist Sagar Charan, who is president of Safai Karamchari Complaint Grievance Committee, said, “Despite the fact that manual scavenging is banned under law, employees continue to work with bare hands or without proper safety gear. Not just this, PCMC also does not take proper care of their health as their health check up are rarely done.” Charan said the death of a conservancy worker in the drainage chamber highlights all that is wrong with nullah cleaning.