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‘Garbage count falling’- BMC needs reality check

The cynical and trumpet claim by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) indicates that the daily garbage count of the Mumbai city has fallen; city’s civic body has given the credit to their successful approach in encouraging citizens for segregation of garbage, recycling and taking action against big societies generating more than 100 kg of refuse per day.

As specified by BMC, city’s housing societies are also taking responsibilities to recycle their wet waste themselves and thus, controlling to dump minimum of the garbage on dumping grounds. Whereas the claim sounds rejoicing enough, but the nuts and bolts of city’s waste management issue is a far cry. The great walls of garbage in the interiors of the suburbs of the city are beyond being unhygienic. City’s three dumping grounds — Mulund, Deonar and Kanjurmarg are also inadequate for a 4,355 km² region and a population of 20,748,395.

When AV spoke to Minesh Damodar Pimple, Deputy Chief Engineer of BMC’s Solid Waste Management Department, he stated that from last few years BMC have been measuring and monitoring the dung generated across the city and their observation indicates that garbage dumped in dump yards is decreasing creditably.

He further expressed, “Garbage count has come down from 9500 metric tonne to 7200 metric tonne in comparison to last year. Residential societies are also giving good responses to follow wet and dry waste segregation methods themselves. BMC is also very active in the proper execution of solid waste management of the city. Citizens are also assisting us to tackle the menace.”

When asked if BMC has any plan to expand its existing three dumping grounds in the city, he replied, “Decomposing garbage in dumping grounds is an illegal way; rather it should be based on a scientific system of garbage decomposition. Dumping grounds will shut down gradually but emphasis is on the scientific process.”

While India alone generates more than 1,00,000 metric tonnes of solid waste every day, the average garbage generated in Mumbai metropolis per day is 7,200 metric tonne (MT), a reduction of 2,300 MT over the last three years. In June 2015, the city was generating 9,500 MT of garbage per day, as per data from a disclosure made to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta. The report has also claimed that the latest daily average is 600 MT less than the figure for January this year.

Waste management crisis is starkly evident; though many societies across the city are taking efforts to segregate garbage, it seems BMC is still lacking in performing its best. The garbage collectors from individual housing societies dump the litter on a selected spot allotted for the purpose. The city’s civic body misses the supposed regular intervals to carry that waste to the dump yard. As a result of the delay, the area becomes malodorous making it awful to cross by the passerby.

The civic body has also observed that the pressure on dumping grounds has decreased, as have the number of trips made by garbage vans. In June 2017, garbage vans made 2,238 trips to the city’s dumping grounds, which has come down to 2,118 in February 2018.

Pundalik Sakharam Awate, Deputy Chief Engineer of BMC’s Solid Waste Management Department, said, “With the data revealed by BMC’s waste tracking system, it seems that the amount of generated garbage is decreasing day by day.”

“BMC is taking good initiatives, people are also giving warm responses and we are taking action against the housing societies who are not implementing waste management regulations. We are following scientific process and constitutional laws regarding garbage recycling,” he added.

The idea to segregate waste started off after two fire episodes in Mumbai’s Deonar dumping ground that turned out due to high methane content in the unsegregated waste, resulting in extreme air pollution and contaminated groundwater due to its liquid residue. If done in systematic intervals, waste segregation is an efficient way to save Mumbai’s air quality getting hard to breathe.

When AV spoke to a Resident of Mulund, on the condition of anonymity he shared how residential complexes are cooperating with BMC’s regulations of waste management system. He said, “In our locality, everyone follows BMC’s waste management suggestions as per guidelines. But the piles of garbage in the dumping yards are still a big concern. BMC needs to give more attention to that because people living nearby dumping ground area in Mulund are severely suffering from various health hazards.”

It is high time for the BMC to realise how important it is to handle the issues of service quality and waste quantity together. Country’s economic front to also see growth with the contribution of upscaled recycling industry. Unless the solid waste management chaos gets addressed soon, the monsoon mayhem will never decamp from the island city of India and the air will soon become throat choking.

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