Garbage management cost shoots up to Rs 450 cr a year

Collection, transportation of waste form a major portion of expenses

Garbage management cost shoots up to Rs 450 cr a year

The cost of managing the City’s garbage has risen sharply from approximately Rs 300-crore a year to Rs 450 cr a year over the last two-three years.

Bulk of this cost is the expenditure on the collection and transportation of waste and not on its treatment.

On the contrary, an estimate has it that if BBMP insists on local segregation of waste into dry and wet waste at source, it would earn the Palike a revenue of about Rs 300 a crore  from garbage, thus eliminating the high costs of collection and transportation.

“But because there is money to be made from collection and transportation, the BBMP and the contractors lobby obviously are not willing to insist on local treatment of waste,” an activist pointed out.

While the costs are going up, a senior official of the BBMP during a court hearing said if the BBMP were to do a good job of the local segregation, BBMP would need Rs 600 crore as costs to set up infrastructure.

A civic activist arguing for local segregation said she was aghast by the official’s idea to spend more money when actually there was the opportunity to make money out of waste.

The BBMP was viewing waste as an economic burden, while it could turn out to be a revenue earner, the activist argued, emphasising on local segregation.

In Wilson Garden, an attempt was made by activists and residents to localise treatment of waste on a vacant piece of land, but the BBMP and some of its officials kept on stalling their bid and finally forced them to move out from there.

Other factors too work against the segregation at source model. Garbage contractors also collect waste from bulk generators like apartment complexes more than they do from individual homes as they can make money out of it.

A resident of an apartment, Pradeep Narayan says that the apartments pay the contractors money for lifting the garbage. This money is fairly good as it is given on a daily basis - though the money is actually collected as a whole at the end of the month. Because bulk generators pay money, there is no incentive to localise the treatment of waste. Residents just want the relief of garbage being collected.

Narayan suggests that an incentive/disincentive policy be introduced for residents.

“Pay the residents some token money if they segregate at source and penalise them at a token level if they don’t. The policy can be extended to pourakarmikas too. If they can persuade residents to segregate at source, pay the pourakarmikas some amount. They will be motivated to insist on segregation. But you cannot penalise them as they don’t even get their salaries. BBMP has to overhaul the existing system by introducing a good incentivising system for residents and pourakarmikas, not for the contractors.”

“The root cause of garbage mismanagement is the lethargy of residents to separate dry and wet waste. Mixed waste is what is reaching the landfills. Because of the rot they cause, local residents like at Mandur don’t want the garbage to be dumped near their homes. Only if the contractors insist on segregation at source will the problem get solved to some extent,” a BBMP official said.

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