Mumbai Local

BMC’s idea of landfills flawed

Activists are calling for urgent localised solutions instead of new landfills—Photo: Rajneesh Londhe  

The Deonar dumping ground fire has brought a sharp focus on the BMC’s waste management strategy. The revenue expenditure of the civic body has been rising steadily over the past few years. However, experts are increasingly raising concerns over the rising cost of waste transportation, calling for urgent localised solutions instead of creating new landfills.

“The idea of landfills itself is fundamentally bad,” Ashok Datar, chairman of the NGO Mumbai Environment Social Network told The Hindu . “Although the budgetary allocation is rising, we do not know in what manner the money is spent. The BMC has consistently not been utilising the entire allocation either. We have to have a waste segregation plan. There is a strong connection between waste and traffic. The approach to transporting waste has to change.”

According to the BMC’s budget document, the corporation spent around Rs 1,413 crore on solid waste management and transport in 2012-2013. This has risen to an estimated Rs 2,852 crore for 2016-17.

Mr Datar said it costs Rs 6 to transport one kilogramme of garbage. “Add to it the increasing cost of diesel and the problem of traffic jams and you have a situation where rarest-of-the-rare events such as floods or the Deonar dumping ground crisis begin to become common,” he said.

The city generates 9,600 metric tonnes of waste, which is collected and transported to landfills. Proper solid waste management and 100 per cent processing of waste is one of the goals laid down by the BMC under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

In the current budget (2016-17), the BMC said tenders have been floated for the scientific closure and recovery of land at the Mulund dumping ground and work on it will start in 2016-2017. Tenders for the establishment of a 2,000 TPD (tonnes per day) capacity waste-to-energy project at Deonar have been floated. However, these initiatives have come on the heels of citizen activism and interventions by the judiciary.

Bejoy Davis, former project manager with the NGO YUVA, , told The Hindu that an average family of five daily generates up to two kilogramme of organic waste and about 300 gram of dry waste, mostly comprising plastic packaging material.

In a paper submitted for a booklet by the Bombay Community Public Trust many years ago, Mr Davis outlines the BMC’s garbage disposal process: “Garbage collectors employed by various housing societies manually collect the waste generated at the household level and dump it in the garbage bin at specified street corners.

“In the case of South Mumbai, trucks collect garbage from the garbage bins and transport it to a transfer station, which is located in Mahalaxmi. A separate transport is arranged for transferring the garbage from Mahalaxmi to the northern part of Mumbai, where the dumping grounds are situated. From all other parts of the city, garbage is sent directly to the dumping grounds. Nearly 95 per cent of the waste generated in the city is disposed off in this manner.”

There is no waste segregation at the collection stage. Mr Datar said: “Even if some localities do segregate their waste, the municipality mixes it in the trucks. There is a very casual approach to segregation. You have to incentivise good behaviour and punish bad behaviour. The BMC is in a tender-contractor mode. It is not with the citizens. You have to segregate waste at a large and small scale. Bulk waste generators such as restaurants, hotels should be given space to install recycling plants. For a dumping ground, you need around 200 acres, but for waste conversion you need only 10 acres.”

A Mumbaikar, who did not wish to be named, said, “I used to segregate my waste, but what is the point? Nearly a decade ago I was pursuing the BMC for ward-based debris recycling plants, but it was as if it was my problem and the BMC had nothing to do with it. You have to know corporators and pursue them. There was no political will for it.

“Somewhere the BMC was not prepared for it. Even now, there is no clarity about the BMC’s claims that they are scientifically dumping the waste. What is their scientific process? They are just dumping. They are so many ways to do it. Defunct land in wards can be used for common recycling plants.

“The only change I have noticed is that they have started a facility of making a debris collection vehicle available on call.”

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 9:50:12 PM |

Next Story