BBMP's urge to splurge may cost the City dear

Impressed by solid waste management techniques which he recently saw in Israel, Deputy Mayor Harish has invited a private firm that handles waste management in Tel Aviv, to provide a solution to the City’s garbage problem.

“We have invited them after seeing the efficient manner of waste disposal in Tel Aviv,”  Harish told reporters on Monday. A 13-member BBMP team has just returned from Israel, where they attended a conference on solid waste management.

The Israel option will definitely deplete the already parlous finances of BBMP, whereas the simple solution developed by India’s premier research institutions and local NGOs can save the citizens and its residents big bucks. 

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) have developed and field-tested solid waste management (SWM) techniques relevant to Bangalore, and organisations like Environment Support Group (ESG) have been offering affordable solutions to the civic authorities but they have no takers.

Instead, every time the City has a new set of corporators, they head to destinations abroad to shop for solutions.

“From the 1970s, the City Corporation has brought in everyone from the Danes, the Americans, the World Bank to sort out our rubbish! Most of them just dump technology on us,” says Leo Saldanha of ESG.

He suggests enforcement of segregation of waste at source. “It does seem that there’s no money to be made when the solution is simple. Where is the need to run around the world to find a solution?” he asks.

In a city like Bangalore with no heavy rainfall, the natural capacity of waste to biodegrade is high provided it is segregated at source, say waste management experts.

“Segregation at source was part of our culture of putting things back into the earth,” says Saldahna. All we need to do, he adds, is to enforce it across the City like we are enforcing rainwater harvesting.

Nobody knows the exact way in which the technology operates. Corporators are just mouthing words like ‘hydro-mechanical segregation.’

Dr Chanakya of IISc observes that any mechanical device to segregate waste could be prohibitively expensive. “It sounds like they are talking of converting waste into liquid fuel through high pressure and high temperature. Such methods have been tried earlier and withdrawn because they are messy and very expensive,” he says.

He is convinced that no external technology is required if the segregation of waste and ban on plastics in enforced.

He also adds that many teams that go abroad are ignorant that India is bound by a Supreme Court order, which rules that we cannot burn waste and pollute the environment.

“With little awareness of the law of the land, they come back with all kinds of solutions,” he adds.

Interestingly, a 100-page report on Bangalore’s toxic legacy was submitted by ESG to the Palike in 1999-2000. “Our corporators don’t want simple solutions. They want lucrative ones. They really need to find new reasons to go on junkets,” says Saldanha.

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