Surat, the diamond city of India, is moving towards attaining the status of ‘Zero Waste’ in the coming days.
Considered to be one of the cleanest cities of India, Surat, in the aftermath of the outbreak of plague like virulent disease in year 1994, efficiently managed to clear its backyard in a span of just 18 months by transforming itself from a dirty, garbage strewn city to a clean city.
But this was due to the combined efforts of the Surat Municipal Corporation and the citizens.
Surat is a model city today for other cities to follow and of course, a grim reminder of the consequences of neglecting the issue of solid waste management.
Can Bangalore afford the prevailing laxity? The less said the better about civic sense of Bangaloreans and when it comes to the issue of disposal of garbage in their city, they have neither any idea nor do they care about how it is managed by the civic authorities.
Even the civic agencies have been managing the huge amount of solid waste that is generated every day without a thought for its proper segregation let alone its scientific disposal.
Most citizens see to it that the solid waste that includes wet, dry and other types (metal, plastic and hazardous) generated from their individual households is just disposed off. They are least bothered whether it is dumped in vacant sites or in front of other people’s houses. Their only concern is: the waste has made an exit from the premises of their household without incurring any expenditure.
Shankar, an old time resident of Bangalore says, “I pay Rs 20 every month to the waste collector, what more should I do? It is not my duty to either segregate the waste or my concern as to where it is being dumped. It is the duty of the civic agencies to find a way out for disposing off the waste that is generated in this teeming city of millions.”
There are thousands of Shankars in this city who have never given a thought to: How will the BBMP dispose off 3,200 metric tonne of unsegregated waste that is generated every day ? Is it the duty of the city fathers or the citizens to segregate the wet and the dry waste? Waste management experts opine, “When other cities in the world can set an example, why can’t Bangaloreans take up this simple task of separating the wet waste like vegetable, fruit and food waste from dry waster like paper, plastic, etc in their households itself.
In fact, some residential colonies, with active help from Resident Welfare Associations, have been doing this and also converting the bio-degradable waste to manure.
For disposing of one’s waste, do the courts have to give a direction and guide us how to do it? Can’t this be done on our own?” With Bangalore having hundreds of house building associations that built thousands of houses and layouts in the past four decades, isnt’t it possible for them to ensure segregation of waste at the source itself?
Major issues with waste management
With Bangalore growing leaps and bounds in the last two decades and the population touching the 8.5 million mark, it generates 3,200 tonnes of waste everyday from households and commercial establishments.
70 per cent of the waste is organic while the rest is inorganic and hazardous.
Not commensurate with this, the collection and disposal systems in the city is abysmally dismal what with the Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules (2000) remaining largely ignored.
Some of the basic issues that confront the city and needs to be tackled on a war footing are:
* The entire waste is unnecessarily transported to the city outskirts thereby, causing pollution on account of open burning in the vicinity of villages
* Routine burning of waste including bio-degradable all over the city, even in crowded residential areas
* Lack of local composting facility which is now restricted to a handful of private initiatives
* Retrieval of recyclable material is pretty diffi cult as there is no segregation
* Lack of recycling of low quality plastic products such as thin carry bags, packaging material and mineral water bottle