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Door-to-door garbage collection

Lucknow, as in the case of most cities in India, has been struggling with the problem of solid waste management for years. Its civic body, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC), has faced a number of hurdles in providing adequate and efficient solid waste management services to its population.

Thus, keeping Lucknow neat and clean has, till date, turned out to be an uphill task carried out on an ad-hoc basis.

To tackle a major aspect of this problem, a solid waste management initiative with respect to door-to-door garbage collection has been launched on January 1, 2009, in parts of the state capital.

According to Dr S.K. Jindal, City Health Officer of LMC, “ragpickers that have registered directly with LMC will be part of this scheme and they will work in units.

“Each unit will be provided with a trolley, two bags, brooms, uniforms and identity cards. So far, around 200 units have been registered for which 200 trolleys have been deployed. Each household will be charged Rs.25 per month for this service and the ragpickers will be collecting the money themselves. The timing of the garbage collection service will be between 9am to 3pm.”

The number of ragpickers in one unit will depend on the number of members of each participating family. One unit will be responsible for 100 to 200 households.

“If there are any complaints about the ragpickers, they can be addressed to a Supervisor who will be from the Lucknow District Urban Development Authority (DUDA) and will be allotted 10 units each to supervise,” states Dr S.C. Dubey, Additional Health Officer, LMC. To begin with, the scheme has been launched in a few areas such as Mahanagar and Vikas Nagar.

Privatisation of garbage collection

“In the Gomti Nagar area of Lucknow, the garbage collection project was launched on January 1, 2009, as well. However, the work in this area has been contracted out to an NGO named Horizon, which will take care of the entire process,” informs Ashish Kumar Singh, an Executive Engineer at LMC.

Solid waste in nearly 20,000 households (Rs.25 per household) will be collected with the help of around 500 ragpickers hired by the NGO. The NGO will provide comprehensive solid waste management services such as garbage collection, sorting, transportation and disposal. While the bio-degradable garbage will be sent for composting, items like paper, metal and plastic will be sent for recycling. The NGO has acquired land in the outskirts of Gomti Nagar for dumping the remaining waste, which will later be taken to the LMC’s dumping yard at Hardoi road.

According to LMC officials, tenders are being floated for privatising garbage collection in 10 more areas of the city, including Aliganj, Alambagh and Thakurganj. The civic body is also deliberating on the issue of having a sole dumping yard for municipal solid waste.

Since mobilising the community and getting their agreement to participate is a crucial part of the waste collection and disposal programme, an awareness drive on waste management will commence soon in the Gomti Nagar area with the help of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs).

This shows that providing a fee-based solid waste management service in India’s urban areas is a viable proposition. NGOs could play an important role because they have expertise in reaching communities, creating awareness about waste disposal problems and motivating residents to ensure participation in the waste disposal programmes.

NGOs also have the capability to acquire new skills, such as composting and product marketing. They can provide an entire chain of services, from door-to-door collection to environment-friendly waste disposal.

Richa Pant

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