Cost factor prevents renewal of contract with agency collecting waste now

There is a sight at the city zoo that never fails to catch the attention of visitors — but it has nothing to do with the wild animals, birds, or flora here. Right beside the exit is a little hillock of plastic bottles, and it has grown so much over the past few months that tourists stop and pose next to it for a picture.

The zoo has a policy whereby visitors are charged Rs.20 if they want to take a plastic bottle of water into the zoo premises. The bottle is stamped and if it is produced again at the exit, the money is returned. While many diligently abide by this rule and applaud the officials for adopting this anti-plastic stand, there are others who conveniently dump the bottle somewhere inside the premises. Sweepers collect and deposit these next to the exit, to the growing plastic mound.

Where it intends to go from here, is unclear. One option is to coordinate with organisations involved in plastic recycling — an alternative that is expected to even yield a profit for the Zoo and Museums Department.

It is for this ‘promising reason’ that the collected bottles are not being handed over to an agency that the zoo has tied up with to cart away all kinds of waste generated on its 55-acre campus. The zoo has had to employ them ever since the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant was closed in 2011.

Contract

This agency charges Rs.3,000 a day to ‘carry a mini-lorry worth of garbage,’ which could be around two tonnes. The contract with them expires on June 30 and zoo authorities said that it would not be renewed. There are, however, a few zoo staffers who are apprehensive about this decision.

“True, we are dealing with a lot of organic waste through the vermi-composting pits. But the problem is that is takes three months to yield compost. So we cannot rely on it to process the waste on a daily basis,” one official said. (The manure generated by vermi-composting will be ready for sale from Monday, May 12).

Moreover, certain kinds of organic waste, such as fallen branches, cannot be turned into compost.

These concerns will have to be addressed ahead of the June 30 deadline.