While the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, which has a waste processing plant, dumps most of its waste in the dumping ground of Dadu Majra, its Panchkula counterpart is processing almost 58 per cent of its waste on its own, even without a processing plant.
The key to this is, according to MC Commissioner Rajesh Jogpal, the segregation of waste.
According to Jogpal, the project of undertaking waste segregation, began in 2017 when the talks for the waste processing plant had begun. “When we have a plant, the waste is easily and better processed, when it has been segregated. Since there was an agency to come up, we were waiting for it to start working as the work order had been issued. But when it backed out, we thought we better do it ourselves because we knew the tender will take time,” he said.
It was then that the civic body started researching and in 2017, made it compulsory for everybody to segregate waste. The corporation then started roping in the informal waste pickers, registered them and talked to them about the process.
“Nobody followed it initially. It took us two years to make people aware and actually start imposing fines on all defaulters,” says Jogpal.
During the tenure, the biggest problem the MC faced was getting the waste segregated from households. “We could not reach each one of them. We decided to channelise it. We asked for a list of people who are not segregating waste from the waste pickers and imposed fine on the waste pickers who brought in mixed waste to ensure compliance.”
But when the MC finally started getting segregated waste, the officials did not know what to do with it.
Beginning of solid waste management
Thus the solid waste management project, that the corporation took head-on, began. It was a long process. The waste collected has to first be segregated, then processed and then disposed off safely. All of this could not have been done in one go.
The municipality, thus, first focused on spreading work about segregation as they still do not own a waste processing plant. “On a pilot project, we decided to start composting unit in Sector 12 in 2017. Though we received a lot of complaints from the residents even before the project began, about foul smell that will be created, once we actually began, the project was a hit. We involved a start-up to conduct the composting, with the condition that they will involve rag-pickers. We have since been selling compost made out of it in bulk. A lot of nurseries and farms order our compost in bulk in advance now”, Jogpal said. The wet waste was much more than that the Sector 12 site could handle. “We then floated a tender where any pre-existing solid waste management firm could approach us and deal with our waste. We finalised one in Ambala. Now they pick up all our wet waste and make compost and bio-gas out of it,” the MC commissioner said.
However, dry wastes including recycleable, bio-medical and hazardous, e waste and construction waste still existed. For all recyclable waste, the MC found a simple solution and left it upto the rag-pickers, to sell it to scrap dealers and earn some money without any overview by the MC. Another firm, called SK hygiene was hired for bio-medical and hazardous waste while complaints for hospitals that produce such waste in bulk and were failing in segregating it, were submitted to Pollution Control Board for further action. An e waste centre that collects gadgets from government employees only was set up in Community Centre of Sector 12 in association with Thapar Industries that collects and recycles it.
As for the construction waste, the MC is trying to float a tender where this waste would be used in making paver blocks and bricks for further construction and development works of the city.
“Our focus here is to produce zero waste. We are trying to select a party that will take care of all of this, while we monitor them. The Jhuriwala plant, for which tenders have already been invited and are waiting for approval will only process dry and wet waste. The rest will be taken care by other agencies”, said Jogpal.
Steps taken for the application of waste segregation
At present, about 117 tonnes of garbage is released from the city, of which 60 percent is wet and the rest is dry waste. About 65 percent of the wet waste is being composted as manure and the dry waste is being recycled.
A total amount of Rs 4,06,000 has been collected against 615 challans. As many as 300 rehris against the budget of Rs 46 lakh have also been distributed by the corporation to the rag pickers that have segregated spaces for both dry and wet waste in green and blue.
Under another scheme to promote awareness and create a habit of waste segregation at a young age, two schools — St Vivekanand Millennium School, HMT, Pinjore and Governemnt Model Sanskriti Scool Panchkula— have been selected by the corporation.
The civic body has also stated giving a discount of 25 per cent to all plastic-free events held at community centres in Panchkula.
While the city has not yet be termed a smart city, the commissioner seems hopeful for the review of the same, coming up in 2021. “We will apply for it and the way we have developed ourselves and the city in the past five years, there are high chances we get it. We have crossed out several of the things needed for the smart city tag already,” he says.
Even in the annual ‘Swacch Survekshan’ survey, the city improved its position to 71 this year — it was ranked 211 in 2017 and 142 in 2018.