The Madras High Court on Tuesday recorded a statement made on behalf of the State government that a sum of around ₹400 crore, required by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) for cleaning a garbage dumpyard at Perungudi through bio-mining would be sanctioned in a month.
Justices N. Kirubakaran and P. Velmurugan recorded the submission made by Additional Advocate General P.H. Arvindh Pandian during the joint hearing of two public interest litigation petitions, including one filed by advocate V.B.R. Menon, with regard to the processing of garbage and the increase of property tax.
GCC Commissioner G. Prakash, too, appeared before the court and explained that a high-power committee had already cleared the proposal for the grant of ₹400 crore and that only a government nod was required for the sanction of funds. In so far as the Kodungaiyur dumping yard was concerned, it may require nearly ₹1,000 crore, he said. Pointing out that no civic body had given attention to processing of garbage until the Swachh Bharat Mission took off, he said that according to a rough estimate, about seven million tonnes of garbage would have accumulated at the Kodungaiyur dumping yard, in the last 40 years, and about ₹1,100 crore would be required to clear it.
He added that the Kodungaiyur yard could be cleared only after Swachh Bharat-II takes off. The Commissioner went on to state that the city generates around 5,100 tonnes of garbage every day, at the rate of 650 g per capita. As of now, the Corporation has a processing facility for only about 500 tonnes of garbage. However, by the year-end, another 1,500 tonnes of garbage processing facility would be up and running and by June 2021, “we will start 100% processing,” he told the court. It was stated that around 400 motor vehicles of various sizes, which could carry between 500 kg to 15 tonnes, were pressed into service right from 5.45 a.m. every day, to collect garbage in the city.
All those vehicles were fitted with GPS devices and they could be tracked by Corporation officials through a mobile application, he said. “In bazaar and market areas, we do night collection as well,” he said, and assured the court that a study on logistics would be carried out to avoid school zones during morning hours.
When the judges insisted upon knowing the rough manpower of the Corporation, He said the approximate sanctioned strength of both permanent and temporary staff , beginning from the level of the Commissioner to sanitary staff, would be around 21,000, though the available working strength was only about 16,000.
Facing a deficit
He also said that the expenses of the Corporation would run into about ₹5,000 crore a month, and that it would be facing a deficit of somewhere around ₹1,000 crore every month. Giving a break up, he said the revenue through own sources such as taxes was about ₹1,500 crore, and the rest of the income was through government schemes and Finance Commission grants.
After hearing him, Justice Kirubakaran wondered how even those who own houses worth crores of rupees could complain about the revision of property tax. He added that it would be very difficult for the civic body to maintain hygiene when its territory had expanded from just 174 sq m to 426 sq m in 2009, by the annexation of adjoining municipalities and panchayats.
Later, he adjourned the cases to next month for further hearing.