Garbage disposal issues still plague Puducherry

Despite progress in waste management, collection of solid waste from houses and eateries continue to pose a challenge

While considerable progress was made in the last three or four years putting in place a mechanism for garbage management, civic authorities are still faced with lacunae in implementing the revised Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, more effectively.

Prior to 2015, when the territorial administration entered into an understanding with Bengaluru-based company Swatchada Corporation for management of solid waste for the entire Urban Agglomeration area — consisting of Puducherry, Oulgaret Municipal limits and certain areas of Ariankuppam and Villianur commune panchayats, barring the Boulevard — the streets and arterial roads often turned into garbage dumping sites.

Some improvement

On the ground, things have improved with the installation of dustbins in residential areas and arterial roads for people to deposit waste, and its regular removal by the 1,200 staff of the Corporation. However, challenges in ensuring the scientific collection and disposal of household waste remain for the civic authorities.

The municipalities and the urban areas of the two commune panchayats generate around 350 tonnes of garbage per day.

“Though there is no source segregation as prescribed by the rules, at least our neighbourhoods are not filled with solid waste as was the order of the day a few years ago. Waste from the dustbins is removed on a daily basis,” said Jitin, a resident of Kamaraj Salai.

But the civic authorities were not able to get cent per cent results even with the maintenance of dusbins in residential areas due to the insensitive way in which people used it, said a conservancy worker.

According to Padma, a resident of Avvai Nagar in Lawspet, people come in motorcycles during the night and throw waste into the dustbins. “When we get up in the morning, we see packets of waste strewn around dustbins. Dogs and cows further litter the waste in and around the bins. People don’t have the patience to stop their vehicle to properly dispose the waste inside the bin,” she said.

Sunaina Mandeen, co-founder of PondyCAN, said: “Awareness campaigns have to go hand in hand with infrastructure on the ground, otherwise it does not work. End-to-end solutions like what Suddham was doing in Raj Bhavan ward is needed.”

It is all the more important to have awareness campaigns in schools. “In these captive environments, it should be easy to implement and make it a habit for kids to go forward,” said Mandeen.

The biggest problem faced by the civic authorities pertains to the disposal of the waste collected from houses and eateries. At present, garbage is being collected, transported and disposed at the 23-acre yard at Kurumbapet, without any scientific processing. Rough estimates by the Local Administration Department showed that around 6 lakh tonnes of garbage had accumulated in the landfill.

According to S. Kannan, who runs Keep Pondicherry Clean, a voluntary organisation, residents near the yard were being exposed to toxic waste, as it had become a practice for ragpickers to burn the garbage.

“There is no proper yard to deposit the collected waste. Bio-degradable and non-bio degradable waste is mixed and deposited in the yard. The yard is an open source for all contagious diseases and pollutes the groundwater,” he said.

The absence of a proper yard had also led to illegal dumping in places such as Kariamanickam, Thirukanoor, Poothurai, Mettupalayam, Mangalam, Villianur bypass, Kurumbapet and Thengaithittu, said Mr. Kannan.

He said there were instances of people throwing waste into waterbodies such as the T.V. Koil lake, Kanagan lake and Thengaithittu mangrove forest area.

The government, along with creating awareness among the people, should consider installing biogas and gasification plants for the scientific disposal of solid waste.

A collaborative effort

President of PondyCAN Prabir Banerjee said a scientific waste management system required cooperation of everyone.

The first step, he said, was to reduce the consumption level in order to stop the unsustainable exploitation of resources. The second step was to start a cycle of renewal. “All biodegradable matter must be returned to nature for healing and enriching the soil that feeds us. As far as non-biodegradable matter is concerned, it should be recycled in a scientific and responsible manner. Pondicherry can easily become a model in solid waste management if we have a proper door-to-door collection, transportation and disposal mechanism,” he said.

The government should form a network of all stakeholders for having a coordinated action plan, he said.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 6:28:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/garbage-disposal-issues-still-plague-puducherry/article27041610.ece

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