Science city needs scientific ways to deal with garbage menace

Science city needs scientific ways to deal with garbage menace

What is apparently coming out is that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is not tackling the problem of garbage in a right manner despite having a local urban body in place for over 18 months. For the past one year many citizens’ groups have been interacting with the BBMP authorities asking for a revised garbage management policy. Some of these groups have been working on a decentralised model of garbage disposal to save cash-strapped palike’s money.

It is an irony that the debt-ridden palike affords a whopping Rs 405 crore only on disposing garbage, of which more than 60 per cent is utilised only for transportation. With the hike in petro-prices the allocation is surely to go up. As if spending Rs 405 crore is not enough, the civic body has made a budgetary provision of Rs 25 lakh per ward this year for a decentralised garbage disposal system! The moot question is—Do we really need to spend such a burgeoning amount on filth?

The short-sighted view of dumping the mixed garbage straightaway to the landfills is nothing but an open invitation to disaster, which will only choke Bangalore. A visit to the villages around landfill areas paint a horrific picture where the ground water and air are highly contaminated putting the lives of villagers at risk. The day is not far away when the core area of Bangalore will be lurking with these dangers. And there are ethical issues too. Why the villagers living around landfill areas should pay the price of having a metropolitan city in their close proximity? Why the dirt of Bangalore be dumped on the villagers for no fault of theirs?

A simple straight answer to these genuine questions related to health, environment and ethical issues lies in a decentralised solid waste management where garbage generated in a given area is managed locally. If this could be done, there would be no need to spend a whopping Rs 405 crore, which could be used for many other urgent and necessary projects.

Detailed plans

The Citizens Action Forum (CAF) and the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) have come out with detailed plans for the dry waste collection centres– called Kartavya, which means duty. This model has been designed by the best people in Bangalore who have put a lot of thought and expertise into it-- from concept makers, to architects, designers and promotional agents.

What  the ‘Kartavya’ centre emphasises is that it is the duty of  every Bangalorean, be it the citizens, institutions, industry or the government to  take care of the garbage they generate everyday. All they have to do is, separate the dry waste from the wet waste. The process of keeping the dry and wet waste separately is called segregation and there is no better machine to perform this task than our hands. We do not need expensive machines that guzzle enormous amounts of energy to segregate garbage when the same can be performed at household level.

This simple task of segregating waste would help the dry garbage get recycled and the wet composted. Time warrants for creating awareness among the residents about the benefits of segregation. The DWCC Kartavya centre will be present in every ward with in a kilometre of any area, where the citizen can come and hand over the dry waste and get a monetary incentive in the bargain. This system is akin to the junk-dealers who buy waste material from people and in return pay them money. Keeping in view the livelihood of the junk dealers or scrap merchants depending upon scraps, the DWCC will not collect the stuff, which the junk dealers buy.

There are better ways to deal with wet fermentable waste, and the garden waste which is the root cause of foul smell, dog menace and diseases generated by flies and mosquitoes. The garden and tree waste must be converted locally in the garden itself to manure. To facilitate this we need mobile shredders which will go to all localities and shred the garden waste to reduce its volume. It can be composted and converted into manure for the farmers which in turn would help increase the food production and probably a reduction in the food prices too! This can be done by various methods.

The palike and its council members must ponder upon this proposal which can generate money and employment and rid the city of garbage.

(The writer is a gynaecologist and an office-bearer of Citizens’ Action Forum, Bangalore)

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