Segregation at source, only solution for garbage menace

Segregation at source, only solution for garbage menace
Can the challenges of Solid Waste Management in Bengaluru be addressed through the Revised Master Plan 2031, public consultations for which are currently on?  To seek the public views and suggestions on what the plan document says, DH interacts with a cross-section of Bengalureans.

N S Ramakanth, a founder of the Solid Waste Management Round Table, disagrees with the waste generation figures put out by RMP 2031. He reasons that the numbers can be reduced only when the segregation is done at source. “In India, we produce about 60% -65% of kitchen or wet waste and rest is dry waste. Once this is segregated, there is scope for recycling.”

He says the problem can be solved only when the government takes initiative to decentralise the system. “To decentralise, we have suggested dry waste collectors’ point at every zone.” Any amount of waste can be recycled with the help of bio-gas or compost plant. “Such plants should be constructed in all wards. With stringent norms and discipline at all levels, we can address this issue. But political will is lacking in the present system,” he laments.

Nalini Shekar, co-founder of Hasiru Dala is on a constant drive to convince people to compost the waste at the grassroots level. She says, “Waste segregation has to be implemented at the constituency level. The government has taken a lot of initiatives, but people are not realising the importance of these projects.”

Garbage, she says, should be seen as a ‘resource’ in future. “I feel by 2031, the awareness will be on a larger level, to make best utilisation of garbage.” Vani Murthy, a composting expert from Malleswaram, feels the figure of RMP 2031 is scary, but it can be reversed only with people’s will and participation. She explains, “Awareness on segregation should be done vigorously to reach every household. People should realise that it doesn’t take much time or effort to segregate wet and dry waste.”

Commercial establishments such as restaurants and hospitals should also follow the rules. Violations should be severely dealt with. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) should come up with a tax rebate for people who follow the segregation process. Like rainwater harvesting, segregation should also be made mandatory. This rule, she hopes, can reduce dry waste going to landfills to only 30%.

Savita Hiremath, who resides in a gated community in Yelahanka, says that segregation at her apartment complex is compulsory. “But there are a few people who do not follow and end up giving mixed waste to the pourakarmikas.”

Primary segregation has to be done at the household level. But this is hardly followed. “In our apartment complex, most housekeepers do even secondary segregation and separate all recyclable products and take out plastic materials that will fetch them money. All we need is a good waste management unit at every complex so that we can send very little waste to the landfills.”

Bengaluru, Hiremath notes, will only grow bigger and BBMP would find addressing the garbage issue a tough task. “Finding another place in Kolar to dump garbage is not the solution. Fertile lands are getting destroyed due to such hasty decisions taken by the government. It cannot dump muck everywhere because they have the political power. The government should work on bringing down the quantity of garbage that head to landfills,” she says.

Citizen Action Forum joint secretary N Mukund says apartments should have their own composting units. “The government can implement the Dubai model of segregation, where each street has a dumping unit for people to dispose garbage. It is then collected without causing any inconvenience to the people.”

C K Ramamurthy, former chairman of BBMP town planning committee, recalls that the Palike had started bio-methanisation plants in wards to convert wet waste to biogas that could power streetlights. The project was operational for a few months at 14 places, before getting stalled due to lack of funds.

“The BBMP has not released the funds due to reasons best known to them. If such promising projects are stopped, there is no hope of finding a solution to the garbage menace in the city.” Volunteers, he says, should join hands with the local officials or pourakarmikas to create awareness about waste segregation. Together, they can create a clean environment. Greater citizens’ participation is the key.


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