G.V. Prasada Sarma
A staggering 650 tonnes of solid waste is generated every day
VISAKHAPATNAM: For a city still grappling with the newly acquired ‘Greater’ tag and finding its feet as a happening place playing host to the IT sector, not everything is hunky dory. Its solid waste management (SWM) requires a lot to be done what with the 545 sq. km. area generating about 650 tonnes of waste every day and 23 per cent the city’s 16.5 lakh population living in 500 slums or slum-like settlements.
The municipal corporation is acutely aware of the responsibility cast upon it as a draft report on SWM notes: “A very sincere effort is being made by the municipal corporation to improve the systems of waste management…. But there is a big gap between what is done and what is expected to be done as per the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2000 (of the Ministry of Environment and Forests).”
Areas of concern
Come monsoon, the civic body is on its toes with plans for anti-malaria drive and sprays to combat mosquitoes/kill larvae. It’s not that it is lacking in efforts. It has introduced the public-private partnership ‘Subhram” and ‘Janachaitanya’ schemes. It was the runner-up winning the Crisil Award for excellence in Minicipal Initiatives with Urban Body-Citizen partnership in the area of sanitation in 2004-05. But the scattered showpiece colonies and the Beach Road are an exception. It’s the concentrated, densely populated areas that cry for attention.
Every time there is downpour, its storm water drains overflow though concerted efforts have remedied the situation of late. Besides, it’s fever time too. A recent GVMC survey has shown that 11 in every 100 houses had fever patients and identified 15 areas where the aedis mosquito that causes debilitating chikungunya and the dreaded dengue is rampant. Apart from the vulnerable localities in its erstwhile area that stretched the civic staff to the maximum, the 32 merged panchayats and Gajuwaka pose a challenge in providing sanitation worth the name there.
The corporation has a list of 10 vulnerable hotspots in its erstwhile area and another seven in the merged areas. Not all problems are of its own making. The villages have no proper drains and it is not uncommon to find houses with a pit dug before them.
Even the garbage removal system is ill-equipped. Nearly one and a half years after the merger, the corporation has to acquire the required dumper placers and bins and extend the public-private partnership Janachaitanya programme to them.
Besides its more than 3,000 workers, the corporation had decided to take 1,112 sanitation workers mainly for the merged areas under its “Subhram” scheme. The survey (of the required sanitation workers) was based on a 1960 order on road and drain length. But corporators found fault with the process contending that it ignored density of population. “It will be corrected in the subsequent stages,” says Chief Medical Officer (Health) M.S. Raju. But, that again depends upon the financial conditions. Though no specific allocation has been made in this year’s budget, the corporation had spared money to the additional workers.
It also hiked the subsidy for each worker for Janachaitanya from Rs.600 to Rs.900 and that of Subhram from Rs.1,100 to Rs.1,800 incurring an additional expenditure of Rs.10 crores a year.
On its part, the corporation has been increasing its budget spending on sanitation. From Rs.30.88 crores in 2005-06, its expenditure of Rs.52.59 crores overshot the estimate of Rs.42.4 crores in the next year.
During the current year its estimates are of the order of Rs.61.4 crores. But while sanitation is taken care of by GVMC in the 32 panchayats and Gajuwaka, the Medical and Health infrastructure and personnel are still under the department concerned. For effective functioning, the healthcare also should be under GVMC, says Dr. Raju. But, for that again the corporation has to pass a resolution and make budgetary allocation which means more money.