Cleaning up B'luru from ward level

Cleaning up B'luru from ward level

Household level segregation and composting of wet waste locally should be the target.

Recent initiatives towards solid waste management by the BBMP – such as mandatory segregation and ban of plastic bags – are steps in the right direction. There are, certainly, challenges in their implementation and further steps are needed to make Bengaluru a clean city.

A suggestion in this direction is to convert the Dry Waste Centres to Clean Bengaluru Centres (CBC) at the ward level, with the aim of addressing all aspects of waste management such as citizen involvement; providing required information and services relating to waste management to citizens; to ensure that solid waste is collected as per the schedule; to monitor the ward so that disposal of waste takes place in only designated places and time; and ensure a clean ward.

Major problems faced by the city with respect to waste management have been inadequate awareness on the enormous ill-effects of large scale waste dumping, method of proper handling of waste at the household level as well as poor facilitation in terms of information and services and proper system to collect and dispose of waste.

To a large extent, solid waste should be handled at the local level, preferably within a ward. Some amount of wet waste, e-waste, hazardous and other wastes may need to be disposed outside the ward, which can be done without much problem as long as waste is properly segregated. Household level segregation and composting of wet waste locally should be the target. This converts “public bad” into “public good”.

The reason segregation is such a big issue is that apart from inadequate awareness, there is some amount of guidance required at the household level, particularly on issues such as composting. Currently, dry waste already has a system in place to collect, sell and recycle.

Therefore, to address this, the Dry Waste Centre should be converted into a Clean Bengaluru Centre (CBC) at the ward level. This CBC should be fully equipped with information on various household segregation and composting methods, methods for disposal of household waste, opportunity to buy and sell compost, products for purchase pertaining to management of wet waste and along with a system to drop off both wet and dry waste if households are unable to do so during the routine collection time.

If residents wish to convert their wet waste into compost themselves, then they may be facilitated by information on the available alternative technologies and equipment as well as connect them to the organisations who specialise in this. The CBC should have a compost pit to convert the wet waste received and the resultant compost may be utilised for a nursery within the ward. A nursery should also be created in the CBC to make planting materials available to the households.

Trained personnel

The CBC needs to have fully trained personnel who can help answer questions on waste management that residents might have and offer suggestions best suited to them. The personnel will also take care of the other activities of the centre, such as ensuring proper collection of wet waste at the doorstep or at the centre, managing the nursery, composting and supply of other materials at the centre, etc. The residents in each ward will then have the option of choosing whichever method they prefer to segregate and dispose of the waste.

Wherever there is a schedule to collect the waste by the pourakarmikas, the system can be standardised by the centre. The CBC will create awareness among households, school children and youth by organising competition and activities related to waste management. It will also advocate the use of non-plastic bags at stores. The facility where a cloth/jute bag may be bought or rented out could be organised. The centre will also have products and services to help the households grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The following key activities are to be performed by the CBC: a) It should be run by an NGO with support from an adopter (CSR funding and management support); b) A team of 2-3 skilled people is required; c) There should be a management committee consisting of ward councillor and 5 other representatives from the ward who will have a fixed term. The local BBMP engineer and horticulture officer may also be part of the management committee.

The management committee will come up with area specific rules in accordance with the BBMP’s broad guidelines. The NGO will provide the required manpower to run the centre and implement the rules. The corporate adopter will provide facility set-up cost and management input, the BBMP will provide space, initial investment cost and ensure cooperation from pourakarmikas.

The objective is to achieve a high level of cleanliness at public places in the ward. The committee should price its product and services in a way that the CBC is financially viable. A pilot may be done in 1 or 2 wards to fine tune the centre’s activities and, if found successful, can be scaled up to other wards.

(The writer, a professor at IIM Ba-ngalore, is Chairperson of the Economics & Social Sciences area and heads the Centre of Excellence for Urban Development at IIM-B)

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