The Chennai Corporation has decided to use the services of residents on a part-time basis to improve conservancy operations in the city.

The civic body will soon invite applications from residents including students, self-help groups and cooperatives and create a database of personnel for conservancy operations.

Under the existing system, in a day, a conservancy worker is permitted to take eight hours to sweep 500 metres of a road with a median, for a daily wage of Rs. 300. On roads without medians, a worker is required to sweep a 250-metre stretch in eight hours. Each of the 5,000 temporary conservancy workers is paid Rs. 300 per day.

The workers start work at 6 a.m. but recently, delays in completion of work have become recurrent.

Many roads are cleaned only after 11 a.m., causing garbage to pile up in many areas.

According to a Corporation official, the new system with a large number of workers on the rolls, will permit part-time workers to work for just one or two hours per day at a wage of Rs. 40-Rs. 60 per hour. This initiative will increase the number of workers cleaning the streets on a day from 15,000 to more than 50,000. The work will cover street cleaning and door-to-door collection of garbage. All the workers will be given protective gear.

At present, the 15,000 workers, including 10,000 permanent staff members, clear 4,900 tonnes of municipal solid waste a day.

Once the new system is implemented, most of the roads will be clean by 8 a.m., an official said. A larger number of personnel will be at work simultaneously, with no significant change in the cost of operations, he added.

After the Chennai Corporation council approved the proposal for gradual privatisation of conservancy operations in all zones of the city, a number of new initiatives have been run on a trial basis. Privatisation of conservancy operations is in place in zones such as Teynampet, Kodambakkam and Adyar. Night conservancy operations have also been increased on many streets.

The efforts of the Corporation to use suitable technology for better conservancy operations, however, are yet to take off. The civic body is pinning all its hopes on alternative solutions to cope with challenges to municipal solid waste management.

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