With the next round of Swachh Survekshan approaching, Chandigarh is yet to implement waste segregation at household level, which was its biggest failing last time. Despite tours by councillors to different cities to study solid waste management this year, Municipal Corporation (MC) Chandigarh has not been able to implement the learning back home.
Last time, when Chandigarh missed the cleanest city tag and secured a third rank in the national cleanliness survey, officials had specified that as door-to-door garbage collection is not under the MC and carried out by independent garbage collectors, the city has been unable to implement waste segregation at household level. Indore, which came first in the survey, has a comprehensive segregation system.
After the results were declared in May, officials pushed hard to take over garbage collection under MC to implement segregation, but have not succeeded.
Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav told Chandigarh Newsline that he fears Chandigarh will not be able to improve its performance in the survey this time.
“I have admitted this before the House also. I don’t think we can fare better. Other cities are speeding up to improve the system, whereas I feel Chandigarh is lagging behind. Unluckily, I think we have missed the bus now. I won’t blame it on political intervention alone as it is our collective responsibility. As administrators, it is our job to push the agenda and as stakeholders be it councillors or residents, it is our job to think over it so that we evolve as a city,” he said.
After the results were declared in May, the councillors made a study tour to Indore, Vijaywada and Mysuru to study solid waste management in September. Later that month, the agenda of taking over waste segregation was brought in the House, but all in vain.
“We have been lacking because of political interference. The BJP and Congress councillors don’t want to annoy the garbage collectors as it is election year now,” a senior official on the condition of anonymity said.
Garbage collectors struck work for 21 days in October after the MC House decided to give an in-principle approval to take over of waste segregation. The strike was called off after an assurance from the Mayor. In November’s House meeting, the agenda was postponed again by the BJP councillors who said that public response to the decision is important. In December’s House meeting, finally the House resolved that MC won’t take over the garbage collection. Instead, independent collectors will start segregating household waste.
“We can neither enforce segregation on people and nor collectors because they aren’t under the MC. That is why we wanted to take over, but the councillors are not letting us do that,” the official said.
Chandigarh has a population of 10 lakh according to 2011 Census and 26 wards, while Indore Municipal Corporation caters to 27 lakh people in 85 wards. .
On June 2017, the Chandigarh MC launched the waste-segregation initiative by distributing dustbins to city residents. Green and blue dustbins were distributed in every household and even supplied to the door-to-door waste collectors. Despite spending Rs 2.5 crore, the efforts went futile. The MC did not hold any awareness drive, nor did it enforce segregation on the door-to-door waste collectors.
Baljinder Singh Bittu, Chairman of Federation of Sector Welfare Associations of Chandigarh, said they are not against segregation, but the fact is that the MC should not take over garbage collection. “Door-to-door collectors collect garbage from doorstep, while MC, when it temporarily took over during the strike, was asking people to come and drop waste in trolleys stationed at a distance. Moreover, the livelihood of the door-to-door collectors should not be snatched,” he said.