Mechanisation of garbage clearance mooted

Bangalore Oct. 3. The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike employs 3,500 sanitation workers, called Pourakarmikas. Private contractors employ another 5,000 workers to empty dustbins and clear garbage in the City.

Despite the large workforce and 350 lorries, there are areas where garbage bins are not cleared till late in the day. There are also lorries without protective covering and a fair of amount garbage gets spilt in transit. These are among the factors that account for the large number of stray dogs and cattle. There are also cases of cattle chocking on plastic bags.

The pourakarmikas are to be provided with protective gear such as footwear and gloves. Most of those employed by the private contractors complain that they are not given protective gear. Besides the inherent risk in manually handling any waste, they are exposed to serious infections by handling contaminated waste, including bandages and disposal syringes and needles.

Non-government organisations working in the City point out that despite regulations, there are fairly large numbers of private and dental clinics that continue to dispose of their waste at the nearest garbage bin. The rules stipulate that hospital waste should be segregated and all infectious material burnt in an incinerator. Not many small clinics have this facility and few have attempted to have a collective incinerator.

Under the manual system of garbage clearance, the waste is shovelled into cane baskets (which themselves leak) that workers carry on their heads to a lorry. The poorly protected worker in showered with loose garbage, including medical waste, rotting animal carcases and broken glass. The process requires one driver and four workers per lorry and the time taken at each point is 15 to 20 minutes in some residential areas.

Mechanisation of the garbage clearance operation has been suggested as a better and more hygienic way. One of the proposals made is for a vertical steel frame, about 20 ft in height, on which the garbage bin moves up and down. The top of the frame is equipped with a hoisting mechanism connected by wire ropes to the bin.

Each garbage pick-up point will have permanent arrangement for mechanised transfer of garbage from bin to lorry. The bin on the frame is directly tilted onto the lorry with a hand-held power tool that is driven by the truck's own power. Collection time at each point is likely to be reduced by 80 per cent.

Those using the garbage bin throw the waste through a flap door like on a post box. Stray animals cannot reach the waste and the area is spared of bad odour. Most citizens already use the garbage bins and waste is strewn around only when the bin is overflowing. The size of bins and the frames can be modified for local needs.

The plans now sent to the Mahanagara Palike and the Government anticipate only one worker for each lorry and for bins of 125 cubic ft capacity, twice that of the bins in use. With better productivity and less workers exposed to health hazards, the mechanised system promises hope.

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