“In­dian cli­matic con­di­tions good for com­post­ing”

Governance Now - - PEOPLE POLITICS POLICY PERFORMANCE - seema red­kar for­mer OSD (ad­vance lo­cal­ity man­age­ment (ALM) – Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion of Greater Mum­bai (MCGM)).

With its dump­ing grounds turn­ing into moun­tains of garbage, how is Mum­bai plan­ning to han­dle its waste?

The land­fills in Deonar, Mu­lund and Kan­jur­marg could be re­claimed. The waste could be reused through bio­min­ing or set­ting up pro­cess­ing plants: bioincin­er­a­tors, biore­ac­tors, bio­gas and waste-to-en­ergy plants. For any de­vel­op­ing city, re­cy­cling of con­struc­tion and de­mo­li­tion (C&D) waste is the big­gest chal­lenge. Like in other coun­tries, there has to be pre-de­mo­li­tion norms or guide­lines for C&D [in In­dia]. There will be con­straint of space un­less C&D waste is car­ried out­side Mum­bai. With In­dia’s huge pop­u­la­tion, de­mand for food and wa­ter will rise, and we would re­quire land to hold wa­ter for which more com­post will be re­quired.

There are poli­cies on man­ag­ing waste, but they largely re­main only on pa­per.

Un­like Euro­pean coun­tries where food items are stan­dard­ised, our cui­sine is mul­ti­cul­tural. For set­ting up a bio­gas plant or any other project, a sta­ble com­po­nent of food is re­quired which is very dif­fi­cult. We need to adopt western tech­nolo­gies but we also need to re­design them as per our in­dige­nous re­quire­ments. In this as­pect our R&D is fail­ing. The cor­po­ra­tion and the gov­ern­ment must do R&D in in­no­va­tion. For ex­am­ple, the city of Pune has mod­i­fied its sweep­ing ma­chines bought from abroad as per its re­quire­ments. This is not be­ing done in Mum­bai. It is here that a PPP model is a must. Also, the cor­po­ra­tion must pay tip­ping fees [a sup­port price de­ter­mined by the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties or any state agency au­tho­rised by the state gov­ern­ment to be paid to the con­ces­sion­aire or op­er­a­tor of waste pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity for dis­posal of resid­ual solid waste at the land­fill] to their con­tac­tors. Nowhere in the world is waste pro­cess­ing pos­si­ble with­out tip­ping fees. This must be charged to cit­i­zens oth­er­wise waste will never be re­duced or re­cy­cled. Along with com­mit­ment from the ad­min­is­tra­tion and cit­i­zens, po­lit­i­cal will is the most im­por­tant, but it is miss­ing.

What chal­lenges does one en­counter while seg­re­gat­ing waste at the cit­i­zen’s level?

The com­mit­ment from ma­jor­ity of peo­ple is not there. Twenty per­cent peo­ple want to do it; and only ten per­cent are do­ing it. Im­ple­ment­ing au­thor­i­ties must be vig­i­lant and strict on its en­force­ment. All so­ci­eties must seg­re­gate their own waste. More­over, we are fail­ing to pro­vide pub­lic­ity through ICT. While the younger gen­er­a­tion is very open to waste seg­re­ga­tion we don’t have backup sys­tems. Col­lec­tion of seg­re­gated waste is a chal­lenge. There is no fixed, laid down method [for it]. In­dian cli­matic con­di­tions are very good for com­post­ing; and we don’t need any other method. If Mum­bai’s en­tire wet waste of around 7,700 MT, which goes to dump­ing grounds, is spread across, it will au­to­mat­i­cally get pro­cessed and can be sold as ma­nure. For dis­posal of san­i­tary and med­i­cal waste we need to have poli­cies at the na­tional level.

Cor­po­rates gen­er­ate al­most 40% of the to­tal waste. How can they be made to re­cy­cle their own waste?

Cor­po­rates gen­er­ate a lot of dry and haz­ardous waste. Wet waste can be con­verted into bio­gas. But they don’t want to give up [their] space. Next to my house on a 150 sq ft area TCS has a bio­gas project. Gi­ants like Tatas and Bir­las can come out with plans. In Pune, the Adar Poon­awalla Clean City Ini­tia­tive is a good model. The Ramky waste-to-en­ergy plant in Delhi is very sleek. This can be done first as a busi­ness and then as phi­lan­thropy.

What needs to be done at the BMC level to ad­dress this prob­lem?

BMC needs to cre­ate a lot of ICT aware­ness and ad­ver­tise the is­sue. BMC must give ev­ery flat wet and dry bins. It is a one-time in­vest­ment. Ad­vanced lo­cal­ity man­age­ment (ALM) units [meant to help ar­eas man­age waste and other civic is­sues] are be­ing delisted for not per­form­ing. While a few ALMS may be cre­at­ing prob­lems, some are mak­ing ser­vices ef­fi­cient. They are the eyes, ears and nose in the area. This part­ner­ship [be­tween BMC and ALM] needs to be strength­ened. When ICICI Bank fe­lic­i­tated so­ci­eties with their Swachh So­ci­ety Awards it boosted and gave them en­cour­age­ment. We need to be sen­si­tive to­wards class IV work­ers and ap­pre­ci­ate them for we are healthy be­cause our con­ser­vancy work­ers keep our places clean.

How can the role of NGOS and or­ganic waste con­verter en­trepreneurs be strength­ened?

There are very few NGOS work­ing in waste man­age­ment. None are do­ing the work pro­fes­sion­ally. They need to be strength­ened and work in part­ner­ship with each other. Au­thor­i­ties must not take them as a chal­lenge but as a sup­port. If a rag picker is ab­sent or does not go for col­lec­tion the work col­lapses. In tie-up jobs, BMC needs to give in­cen­tives like gloves, masks, etc. to long-term and per­ma­nent work­ers. We need to strengthen the liveli­hood and wel­fare pro­grammes like Swarna Jayanti Sha­hari Roz­gar Yo­jana. The In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO) does a lot of fund­ing for un­or­gan­ised sec­tor work­ers in­clud­ing SWM [solid waste man­age­ment] work­ers who are on con­tract [more than 50% work­ers are on con­tract]. Jhark­hand is the only state in In­dia us­ing ILO funds.

How easy or hard is it to bring about a cul­tural shift and build a con­sen­sus among cit­i­zens and au­thor­i­ties?

It is not easy. Like it hap­pened in Surat, Mum­bai needs a blow or BMC should say it is not lifting waste un­til cit­i­zens seg­re­gate it. At the same time, cor­po­ra­tion should also make ar­range­ments to pick up waste on time from ev­ery lane or peo­ple should know whom to con­tact when the ve­hi­cle does not come. There has to be an or­gan­ised method of col­lec­tion, trans­porta­tion and dis­posal with the cit­i­zens and NGOS in­volve­ment. Po­lit­i­cal sup­port has to be there.

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