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'Long Room': What a Mess

Monday, 12 November 2012 - 10:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Even as the city struggles to dispose 6,500 metric tonnes of waste generated daily, the civic body seems to be in no hurry to upgrade the dumping yards. Violation of municipal solid waste rules, 2000, has added to the stink. It’s high time the BMC pulled up its socks and citizens played an active role in ensuring a litter-free city, says Eknath Makne.

The city’s waste problem has raised a stink but the clean-up act is mired in hurdles.
Commissioned in March, the Kanjurmarg dumping ground was expected to take the load off Deonar dump yard, the city’s first dumping site, which is nearing saturation. But, the city is still struggling to dump its waste.

An NGO, in a public interest litigation (PIL), has alleged that the Kanjurmarg dumping ground flouted norms related to coastal regulatory zone (CRZ), damaging mangroves and wetlands.
On November 6, the Bombay high court, in its interim order, disallowed garbage disposal at Kanjurmarg dumping ground. The dump yard has flouted municipal solid waste (MSW) rules, 2000, and has delayed in setting up garbage processing units, allege residents. Because of this, the stench emanating from the site had become unbearable for the residents.

The municipal corporation said that out of the total 125 hectare of the Kanjurmarg ground, 65 hectares is not used for dumping garbage as it falls in CRZ.

Spots of bother
The MSW rules (management and handling), 2000, make it mandatory to segregate waste at source. The rules stress dumping of waste in stages like collection, transportation, processing and disposal.

The rules were framed based on recommendations made by a panel appointed after a Supreme Court order in connection with 1994 plague epidemic in Surat.

In its 2012-13 budget tabled in March, the corporation had proposed to install 20,000 litter bins of 6.5 litre capacity each across 10,000 locations in city. But the plan will take a few more months to materialise.

The municipal corporation’s apathy is seen in the piling garbage in parts of the city. The civic body is supposed to pick up waste from collection points thrice a day. The lack of adequate number of vehicles and compactors has posed hurdles, allowing garbage to accumulate. “Garbage is being picked up after every two days in our area only because we pursue it regularly,” said Nikhil Desai, a resident of King’s Circle. “If we don’t, it rots on the street for 15 days.”

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has 650 vehicles to collect garbage and requires 300 more compactors. It has invited tenders for dumpers/vehicles to collect garbage from administrative wards. It expects to get the vehicles by June next year.

Kanjurmarg yard is not the only example of mismanagement of solid waste in a city, which is growing by leaps and bounds.  
Lack of processing units waste has added to the poor management of the city’s solid waste.  The promised bio-methanisation unit at Mulund dumping ground and composting plant at Deonar site was put it place. But without they being operational, it has added to the city’s garbage woes.

That the civic body has served show-cause notices to contractors of the dumping yards recently indicates the poor management of garbage sites. The garbage burden is borne by Deonar dump yard, which was to shut next year but the closure process will be delayed as the ground is still being used to dump garbage.
The processing unit at Kanjurmarg dump yard had partly started functioning when dumping of waste was stalled. The yard is supposed to have both bio-reactor and composting plants.  But despite being operational earlier this year, the yard lacked facilities and this had forced the BMC to divert waste to Deonar site for over two weeks before the high court order.

“The landfill did not have complete soil cover, leading to a stench in neighbouring areas,” a Bhandup resident said.

Activist Harischandra Pandey, a resident of Borivli, asserted that participation of the citizens was needed to attain the clean-city tag.
“You can’t blame the BMC if you yourself are not adhering to norms,” he said.

Rajkumar Sharma, president of a Chembur-based Advanced Locality Management (ALM), too feels social audits are necessary for a proper execution of the clean-up plan.

What BMC is doing
The municipal corporation is hopeful that collection of waste will improve as the procedure to install litter bins across city over next two months would be expedited.

As it is mandatory for the BMC to use only Euro IV vehicles to transport garbage from the city to dump sites, this has posed another problem and the civic body said it would be solved in the next fiscal only. “We are expecting to get an adequate number of compactors by June next year. In fact, compactors with 2.5 tonnes chasis have already been procured,” said additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani. He added that the problems in the Mulund and Deonar dump yards are being sorted out.

Adtani said the Kanjurmarg yard had got all the approvals. He said the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board had visited the site and cleared objections. “If the court gives a ruling in our favour, we won’t let the yard move out of Kanjurmarg,” Adtani said.

Citizens’ initiative
Will the composting of waste at source lessen burden on the municipal corporation?
Activists said the move would reduce the BMC’s expenses on transportation, maintenance of vehicles and setting up big processing units. The municipal authorities said this is far-fetched. “We will encourage housing societies, if they are interested in composting waste. If they want to, we will approve this within five minutes. But where is the space?,” Adtani said.
He added that the BMC is encouraging ALMs to participate in disposing garbage properly to make its work easy.
“If there is lack of segregation of waste at source, we have to do it at landfill. And it is done while processing the garbage,” Adtani said.

The dirty picture
The city has three dump yards in Deonar, Kanjurmarg and Mulund, where 2,000 metric tonnes, 4,000 metric tonnes and 500 metric tonnes of refuse are supposed to be processed.

Till mid-October, the BMC dumped 1,000 metric tonnes of waste daily at Kanjurmarg yard. The garbage is now being dumped at Deonar site, which is slated for a scientific closure.

In 2009, the Gorai dump yard was closed as it had reached saturation point. The landfill site, though, was in the headlines for causing a loss of Rs15 crore to the civic body after Asian Development Bank asked it to return 4.26 lakh certified emission reductions. This was after a BMC-appointed consultant overestimated the generation of carbon credits during the yard’s closure.

The municipal corporation has four transfer stations in Mahalaxmi, Gorai, Versova and Kurla. Transfer stations are points where small-size vehicles bring in refuse collected from different parts of the city. From here, the waste is transported to dump yards using big compactors. The BMC has been receiving flak for poor maintenance of the stations, which has allegedly turned into mini dump yards within city limits.

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