A matter of patience

Garbage Crisis

A matter of patience

It’s been more than half a year since the City woke up to the realisation that its garbage crisis was spiralling out of control.

Since then, the authorities and a number of NGOs have swung into action, implementing new policies, launching initiatives and incessantly stressing on the importance of waste segregation. But despite the best of intentions from all parties, the movement to correct
Bangalore’s extravagant garbage generation and disposal doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

In the first stages of the initiative, the problems were predominantly related to
logistics. The BBMP implemented an ambitious plan, encouraging segregation
at source and charting a programme that disposed of wet waste in the appropriate way and channelled dry waste to a series of recycling centres — some operating with the help of private parties — to minimise garbage generation.

But the complaints began to pour in soon after the programme was introduced. Citizens complained that segregating garbage was inconvenient and that the pourakarmikas simply remixed the wet and dry waste post collection.

Trash was often abandoned on pavements and street corners, lying uncollected for weeks. Loosely demarcated collection points, where the pourakarmikas
accumulated trash from several households and then loaded onto a truck, were scenes of unhygienic chaos. All in all, the situation seemed bleak. But this, promise officials from the BBMP, is all set to change.

‘Steps have been taken to rectify the situation,” says H C Ananthswamy, chief engineer with the body. Stressing the fact that an operation of this scale requires immense planning and above all, patience, he explains that although segregation at source was encouraged months ago, the formal initiative is still in the process of being launched. “We have created 22 wards under this programme.

Now, we have systems in place. The pourakarmikas have been educated and various NGOs are lending us help. The success of a project like this depends entirely on this sort
of groundwork. Without that, we’re in no position to collect and correctly dispose of waste,” he adds.

The fact that the haphazardly put-together system has been floundering in the last few months, he believes, is part of a larger issue.

“The initiative has been delayed to a certain extent. There were several reasons
for this — various landfills around the City were closed, people were agitating in those areas and frankly, a planned process wasn’t in place. But this sort of programme can’t be executed in a matter of days.

It takes time. Now, I think we will see improvement. Maybe not this year,
but definitely by the next one,” he says.

On their part, a majority of Bangaloreans are simultaneously distressed and hopeful that the crisis will resolve itself over the course of time. Mallika, a resident of Koramangala, says, “Of course, there are plenty of flaws in the system which need to be worked on. The matter of educating pourakarmikas is something, I think, which the BBMP is executing. I’ve noticed that they’re a little more careful about keeping wet and dry waste separate.

However, the authorities still need to address the issue of properly-functional collection points.

The other issue that has to be tackled is an old one — many citizens, still cynical about the benefits of segregation, are staunchly refusing to do so.

“The pourakarmikas might be educated but many Bangaloreans still aren’t segregating their waste,” says Ranjit, a professional. “Perhaps because they saw
the collectors remixing waste when the initiative was first introduced, they feel it’s a waste of time. It’s a vicious circle.

What would really help is an effective system of punishment. Irresponsible
citizens, who don’t feel any qualms about leaving their trash on the roads, should be penalised,” he adds.

Sudhir, who belongs to a theatre group, agrees with this point of view. In his
opinion, the BBMP needs to focus on an awareness drive, something which is integral
to the process of fixing the problem.

   “Unfortunately, I haven’t witnessed a serious concentrated effort by either the
government or community groups to spread awareness about this. Whatever efforts are being made have to be more prominent and available to all residents,” he reflects, adding, “Citizens are ready to make a change but lack the ability to organise amongst themselves. Creating awareness about the issue is bound to help.”

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