NAMAKKAL: Garbage collection has turned difficult for Namakkal municipality administration due to lack of cleanliness workers and vehicles, ever since the municipality limits were expanded in 2011.
According to municipality officials, as the number of wards rose from 30 to 39 after the municipality limits were expanded, the number of sanitary staff should also have increased to 750 corresponding to the increase in the population. However, there are only 400 staff now hence making collecting waste from all households a tough task. "We also have to deal with poultry farms and small industrial units dumping their waste on the outskirts of the town. There is a Union government order against use of pushcarts for waste collection, but no local body in the State follows the order. Even in Namakkal, there are over 80 pushcarts operating," an official said.
Over 1,500 tonnes of waste have been thrown in the dump yard here during the pandemic period. However, none came forward to collect it due to virus fear, he said, acknowledging that there was an urgent need to focus on waste management.
According to sources in the municipality, Swachh Bharat Mission guidelines mandate establishments producing waste more than 100 kg a day to install a bio gas plant in their premises and convert the waste into energy. Though 60 such commercial establishments were identified and trained on it, they did not set up biogas plants. Instead, they recycled the waste and used it for their own purposes. "However, we collect only plastic waste from them as it is saleable. For this, a service charge of Rs 3,000 is collected from them every six months," the sources added.
Namakkal Municipality Engineer (ME) G Sugumar told TNIE that over 35 tonnes of solid waste is collected here regularly. "We have four micro-composting centres (MCC) in the town. A total of 16 tonnes of waste is converted into fertilizer by the MCCs. As per a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with UltraTech cement unit in Ariyalur, we transport 10 tonnes of waste to them a day at free of cost," he said.
Further, he said the municipality would monitor the outskirts of the town where people dumped waste along the roadside. "The survey is on to find where the cameras can be installed. We have also sent a proposal for setting up one more MCC here. The work for that will commence soon," he added.