Explained: Amid tug of war over waste collection, Chandigarh bears stinkhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/amid-tug-of-war-over-waste-collection-chandigarh-bears-stink-5370346/

Explained: Amid tug of war over waste collection, Chandigarh bears stink

Aiming to achieve the task of enforcing waste segregation across the city, the Municipal Corporation says it is important to take over the garbage collection.

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Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (File Photo)

Amid ongoing protests by garbage collectors, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) has taken over the work in the city. Aiming to achieve the task of enforcing waste segregation across the city, the MC says it is important to take over the garbage collection. Although top MC officials claim they were ready to accommodate 1,437 garbage collectors, the protesters are crying foul. They claim their number is close to 4,500 and the MC is snatching their livelihood. Despite MC’s efforts, the city continues to stink with garbage piling up.

What is the stand-off between garbage collectors and MC?

Till September 10, door-to-door garbage collection was being carried out by garbage collectors, independent of the Municipal Corporation. On September 10, they got to know that MC was going to take over garbage collection, which MC eventually did on September 14. MC, in its General House meeting, passed the agenda and decided to take over garbage collection.

What is MC’s plan for garbage collection?

MC plans to use 39 Twin Bin Hopper tippers, costing about Rs 2.72 crore. Manned by a driver and a helper (garbage collector), 39 tippers shall be purchased by MC within two months. MC officials claim that they shall adjust all the 1,437 garbage collectors either on tipper duty or in some other jobs. MC has also proposed that all these people will be paid a monthly salary of Rs 12,000. With the new system, MC says that segregated waste will be collected from households and directly transported to the garbage processing plant at Dadumajra. MC also feels that by taking over garbage collection, if any resident fails to comply with waste-segregation guidelines, MC will be empowered to impose a penalty on the resident. Penalty amount shall be levied in the water bill of the resident, who violates the waste-segregation guidelines.

How much will it cost MC?

Besides Rs 2.72 crore for the 39 Twin Bin Hopper tippers, for the manpower, an yearly expenditure of Rs 93.01 lakh (for drivers) and Rs 63.83 lakh (for helpers) will be borne by the MC. In addition, there will be tippers’ running and maintenance cost as well. There are around 2.5 lakh households from where garbage is collected daily. On an average, if MC keeps Rs 100 as garbage collection charge, per household per month, it will be able to generate Rs 30 crore approximately per annum.

Why are garbage collectors not accepting MC’s offer?

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Garbage collectors say they cannot accept MC’s offer because there will be no job security. Surinder Kakda, a garbage collector, says, “We earn Rs 18,000-20,000 every month. Also, we earn some additional money by selling the waste that can be recycled. For the last 30 years, we have been doing this. MC shall be paying us Rs 12,000. This will not be enough for us to survive.” He adds, “MC will be keeping us on contract basis. MC does not have funds to pay salaries to its existing staff. How will they pay us?”

What is MC’s counter claim?

MC officials say that a bunch of disgruntled elements is misleading garbage collectors. They add that the genuine garbage collectors are willing to join MC, but certain union leaders are misleading them because they have vested interests in these collectors. “These union leaders have lion’s share in this garbage collection business. As told by some councillors, too, they give rehris to these genuine garbage collectors on rent. They are the ones exploiting these garbage collectors and now misleading them. I assure that if these poor people work for us, they can be saved from this exploitation and they will also have job security. According to solid waste management rules, 2016, segregation of waste has to be done. I am legally bound for it. Not implementing these notified rules would be illegal. I am bound to implement these rules in the city,” said K K Yadav, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation.

Is the ongoing protest fizzling out?

MC has opened registration for people who want to accept their offer. Till date, 855 applications have been received by the MC for being employed as garbage collectors. Out of these, 155 are from the protesting 1,437 garbage collectors and the rest fresh applicants. MC officers hope that in the coming days, registration will increase and they will soon be able to employ adequate number of people who can be put on garbage-collection duty.