With the city's dumping yards reaching a breaking point, the Corporation does not seem to have a clear plan or a policy to manage the over 5,000 tons of garbage generated in the city

The two dumping yards — Kodungaiyur and Perungudi — are nearing the end of their lives and the proposal to use a site in Koothambakkam has run into opposition from residents.

Yet, the Corporation does not seem to have a clear plan or a policy to manage the over 5,000 tons of garbage generated in the city, independent experts say.

“The Chennai Corporation doesn’t have a proper workable plan for solid waste management and is clueless. It also lacks technical expertise and sufficient manpower. There is no institutional mechanism,” said a senior State municipal administration department official.

Ineffective mgmt.

Terming the existing system as ineffective, ecologist Sultan Ismail said, “Garbage generated in the city almost reached 5,000 tons. We are only dumping garbage. We are not disposing municipal solid waste as per internationally-accepted scientific procedures. There is no State-level solid waste management policy.”

The Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000, and Schedule-II mandate the Corporation should have a mechanism that ensures segregation of waste at source into wet, dry and so on.

It should have taken up programmes for community participation in these areas. And biodegradable waste should undergo composting, anaerobic digestion or other appropriate processing. The Rules also disallow indiscriminate dumping of garbage.

‘Norms flouted’

T.K. Ramkumar, advocate and environmentalist, said “The Corporation is totally indifferent to solid waste management rules. The contract between the Corporation and the private agencies is only to collect segregated waste. The present method of collection and disposal is wrong and not in accordance with norms.”

Besides employing contractors and paying them according to the tons of garbage generated, the Chennai Corporation has little to show by way of policy along these lines, says Dharmesh Shah of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

B’lore, Pune examples

Mr. Shah, however, says the Corporations in Bangalore and Pune have set in motion policies in keeping with solid waste management rules and the philosophy of zero-waste which limits land-filling to residuals and avoids incineration or any other end-of-pipeline technologies.

“It’s the right time for Chennai to take a comprehensive and coherent approach before we reach a crisis point,” he says.

A. Narayanan, social activist and editor of Paadam magazine, says: “It is time for the Corporation to have wider consultations with all the stakeholders. Decentralised local management at zone level, legislation for strict implementation of ‘polluter pays’ principle, waste reduction and segregation at source on a war footing are the only sustainable ways in future.”

Workshops:

Pdfs of presentations made at Clean Chennai @ Home workshops in Adyar (Sep 7) and Nungambakkam (Sep 8)

Composting by Navneeth Raghavan

Garbage segregation by Navneeth Raghavan

Managing garbage effectively by Srinivas Krishnaswamy & Preethi Sukumaran

Here is a quick guide to start composting and recycling: http://thne.ws/cc-fridgesheet

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