With the Coimbatore Corporation starting work to scientifically close the dumped waste at the Vellalore yard, the issue has again brought focus on source segregation of waste.
The 8.80 lakh metric tonne waste the Corporation is now trying to close is a mixed waste, containing both degradable and non-degradable materials that were not segregated and collected from houses and commercial and industrial establishments. The cost of closing the waste is Rs. 12.56 crore.
Once the Corporation closes this waste in an impermeable landfill, it hopes it will be able to manage the waste as per norms – compost the degradable waste and segregate, recycle and dump the non-degradable waste. But the hope largely hinges on its ability to segregate the waste at source – during door-to-door collection of wastes – because it will be difficult for the contractor engaged in processing the waste to segregate the waste at the plant in Vellalore.
The Corporation knows this and its understanding of the issue are reflected in the agreement it had signed with the contractor – Coimbatore Integrated Waste Management Company Private Limited. The civic body had promised to introduce segregation in phases; 10 – 20 per cent in the first year and an increase of 10 per cent every year thereafter. The reality today, however, is different: the Corporation is struggling to segregate waste at source. There are a number of reasons for the same, the important ones among them being lack of manpower, machinery, bins, etc.
A senior Corporation official, on condition of anonymity, says that unless the civic body has the required conservancy work, all talk of segregation at source will only remain on paper and not in reality. Without the workers who form the nuts and bolts of the waste cleaning operation, how is the Corporation planning to go about segregating waste, he asks.
After addressing the worker shortage, the Corporation has to distribute bins to residents – to help create awareness in them and also persuade them to segregate the waste. Once the two are taken care of, putting in place the required number of vehicles and working out logistics is only a matter of time, the official feels. The Corporation at present handles 750 – 800 tonnes waste a day.
Sources in the Corporation say that they are looking at a three-month period to implement source segregation at waste. Along with the Centre for Environment Education, the Corporation will sensitise the residents, form ward-level committees headed by respective councillors, to oversee the implementation of the project and privatise the waste collection operation, wherever possible.
The earlier attempt to take up door-to-door segregation of waste in a few wards could not be continued because of the reorganisation of the wards and change in elected representatives.
The sources also say that the Corporation had adopted a backward approach by first putting in place the necessary mechanism at the Vellalore dump yard and at transit stations before taking up door-to-door collection. Now, it is ready for the project. On the contrary, if it had first gone ahead with the door-to-door collection, it would not have had the mechanism to compost and process the waste.