Picture this. A day in the future when there is no place to dispose your daily garbage. You are asked to stack it up in your home.
What would you do? Can you imagine living in a house filled with garbage?
You may laugh at the scenario now. But in days to come this could well be a reality. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is silent about waste management and disposal in the future.
With practically no new dumping ground, Mumbai’s civic authorities are firing aimlessly in the dark at present. As one of the biggest dumping grounds in the city, Deonar takes more than 80% of the total waste. But its capacity is slowly getting exhausted.
The Mulund dumping ground is already being over-used. The BMC is in a quandary as to where to find new open spaces. The situation is equally grim when it comes to hazardous wastes generated by industries.
Maharashtra generates half of the country’s hazardous waste -- around 21 lakh tonnes a year. It’s either dumped illegally or treated inadequately, causing environmental pollution and health hazards.
Residents of Chembur and Govandi have been fighting this problem for the past 20 years as they have been facing the ill-effects of the dump yard.
This calls for a scientific waste disposal system in place.
Of all functional elements involved in solid waste management, disposal is the most important element. It includes planning, administrative set-up, finance, technology support and inter-disciplinary relationships. The crucial aspect of this stage is the selection of proper disposal technology.
The success of solid waste management system directly relates to disposal efficiency.
It’s determined at the stage when the collected waste is unloaded into a dumping site.
The commonly used methods for solid waste disposal are open dumps, landfills, sanitary landfills, and incineration plants.
One of the important methods of waste treatment is composting.
Selection of proper disposal method is necessary. Primarily it depends on the ‘quantity of solid waste generated and type of waste to be disposed. There is, however, no single technique, which is suitable to all situations.
A report by Bejoy Davis, civil engineer, project manager, solid waste management & debris recycling,YUVA, Mumbai, points out the future crisis the city would face in debris management.
“Increasing land price and construction activities, including demolition of old structures, create more debris. The debris, being bulky in nature, requires space, and reduces the life span of a dumping ground....Finding few viable alternatives, people just dump the debris by the roadside. Over a period of time, people start dumping organic waste on top of debris, not only compounding the waste disposal problem, but also creating a health hazard,” the report says.
In 1975, the government of Maharashtra passed the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority Act, 1974. As per the Act, MMRDA is supposed to plan, co-ordinate and develop regional infrastructure in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
MMR consists of seven municipal corporations – Mumbai, Thane, Mira-Bhayandar, Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, Vasai- Virar and Bhiwandi - Nizampur.
MMRDA is engaged in planning and promoting growth centres and developing infrastructure for MMR. The objective is to make MMR a destination of economic activity and improve the quality of life.
However, in the municipal provisions for Solid Waste Management (SWM), only those slums which are notified and are on municipal or private land are serviced.
Services to other slums are not accounted for in the budget. The budget allocation for slums forms only 12% of the total SWM budget. There is a need to provide proper garbage disposal system to the slums, too. Otherwise, drains and sewer lines will be clogged.
Time for waste to decompose
The composition of municipal solid waste is related primarily to people’s standard of living and dietary habits. The composition of waste is also time variant. In addition to the qualitative difference, the quantum of garbage generated shows a wide variation too.
Expert view: M R Shah Former chief engineer, solid waste management, BMC
Look outside the city for dumping
Rising population, changing lifestyle of citizens have contributed to a rise in garbage in Mumbai. As of today, the per capita waste generated per day is 450gms. However, with better and improved standard of living, it will go up to more than 600gms in 2020.
As per the 2011 Census, the total population of Greater Mumbai is 1,25,00,000. And more than 20,00,000 people are coming to Mumbai daily seeking jobs.
At present, about 7,500 MT (metric tons) of Municipal Solid Waste (wet + dry) is generated per day. Mumbai is vertically expanding.
Being a commercial hub with offices scattered across the city, more solid waste is also added in addition to the regular routine garbage. The closing down of Chincholi Bunder dumping ground in 2001 and Gorai dumping ground in 2008, had increased the pressure on the two dumping sites in the eastern suburbs. The entire waste of the city gets unloaded at Deonar and Mulund dumping grounds.
The Mulund dumping ground has reached its saturation point because of limited foot print area. Even after this, the dumping ground is being used as the Kanjur landfill site is not ready.
Scenario up to 2020
It seems unlikely that the Mulund dumping ground will be in use for another year or so. On the other hand, the issue of shifting more than 2 million MT of waste from Mulund site will only crop up.
As per the Development Planning Regulations prepared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the projected population in in 2020 will be approximately 1, 35, 00, 000 and hence the garbage generated will be 9,000 MT per day i.e. 20% more than the present quantity.
At present, about 1,000 garbage vehicles are in use. So keeping the population growth in mind the requirement of garbage vehicles will go up to around 1,200. About 5,800 containers are provided at 3,800 sites.
Currently, the Deonar dumping ground is 60-70% saturated and will not be available for further use till the already existing garbage is put under a scientific process so that it can get decayed. The dumping ground may not survive for more than 20 years if the scientific land filling activity of process remediates and inert takes shape as per the guidelines of MSW 2000.
The Kanjur landfill site after putting in operation the 65 hector of area, which is permissible for processing activities by the Coastal Regulation Zone (z), will also get filled with garbage within the next six years but will be available for perpetual use if bio-mining of each cell (out of six cells) is done every year.
The BMC will have to go for an alternative dumping ground site in or outside Mumbai. Or the civic body needs to accept the MMRDA’s proposals of a common waste treatment facility at Taloja. Here, it may be added that the proposal of MMRDA of Regional Land Fill site (RLF) was taken up only on the request and insistence of the then municipal commissioner Dr Jayraj Pathak.
Labour requirement will also go up by 40%. The BMC will have to go for volume reduction technology for processing of municipal solid waste so that only a meagre quantity of waste is disposed.
Case study: Kulbir Singh Businessman
I made a big mistake in shifting from Parel to Chembur
It was in 1960 I decided to sell my apartment in Parel, which was predominantly a mill area, and move to a beautiful house in the scenic Chembur.
At that time, Chembur was considered a posh area. But little did I know that my dream home will turn out to be a stinky one. Initially, there used to be some kind of foul smell but we used to ignore it.
Later on, it became a daily affair. As days passed, it became stronger and unbearable.
That’s when I decided to find out the reason behind this stench. It took me a few days – the answer was just one km away. Yes, my bungalow was near the dumping ground. When vagrants and slum- dwellers burn garbage to extract metal wires, the toxic fumes of plastic and rubber fill the air.
The irony is that I was running away from the mill area, which was one of the most polluted areas of the city. Now in Chembur, either me or one of my family members are always suffering from cold or cough due to the pollution.