The chief guest of the inaugural ceremony of Clean India Technology Week 2022 was Mahendra Singh Tanwar, Municipal Commissioner, Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation. After exploring the entire Expo floor and closely examining products that sparked his interest, he spoke to Clean India Journal about what his city has achieved, and what it needs to achieve its city cleaning and waste management goals.
How was your experience of visiting the Expo and what products were of interest to you?
I congratulate Team Clean India on organising this Expo. I spent time visiting various stalls where two product categories were especially relevant to me in my professional capacity: mechanised equipment for city cleaning, and solutions for municipal solid waste management. Apart from this, I was also interested in products for laundry management and housekeeping.
What are the focus areas of Indian cities in the spheres of city cleaning and waste management?
As far as cities are concerned, a lot of work has been done when it comes to municipal solid waste management. Without a doubt, we are leaning more and more towards mechanised cleaning. Over the next 25-30 years, these will be a focus area for India. Cities will get upgraded and become more liveable; the credit for this goes to the Swachh Bharat Mission.
What types of equipment and partners are you looking for in the above spheres?
When it comes to equipment, we need solutions that can quickly and efficiently convert greywater and sewage water to usable water. But the focus should not be just on equipment manufacturers; we also need startups that have strength in operations.
While some of the larger municipal corporations can procure equipment on their own, many smaller urban local bodies do not have the capacity to make Capex investments in mechanised cleaning equipment. We need service providers who can acquire such equipment and then work with municipal corporations. There is a huge space for such services, and I look forward to partnering with them.
As Municipal Commissioner of Ghaziabad, what have your achievements been?
We have worked extensively on collection and transportation of municipal solid waste. In the last one year alone, we have cleared 6 lakh tonnes of legacy waste. In its place, 1 lakh trees are being planted.
We have strengthened door-to-door collection of waste and have added around 250 vehicles to the collection fleet. We have also strengthened transport stations.
Our model is centered around the concept of ‘garbage factory’, where we process garbage, which also serves as a material recovery facility and production unit for refuse derived fuel and compost. We have commissioned India’s first decentralised RDF plant which is very cost efficient.
Usually, a 600 tonnes per day (TPD) plant costs around ₹100 crores; our 75 TPD costs just ₹4-5 crore. The lead time for such plants is usually 12-18 months; the lead time for our plants was just 4 months.
It is not the case that innovation is happening only in the industry; municipal corporations are also innovating. Industries and urban local bodies should work together and learn from each other for better results.
We have wholeheartedly embraced mechanised sweeping equipment. Around 350 km of roads in Ghaziabad are mechanically swept every night.
What solutions have you not yet found for your unique requirements?
Cleaning machines designed for sweeping main roads are available, but we need smaller machines for sweeping narrower roads. Sweeping is not enough; we need more machines for processing what is collected.
We don’t have integrated solutions for urban waste management. Some vendors are good at collection, some are strong in processing; we need partners who have expertise in the entire waste management chain.
How are you spending the funds available under the Swachh Bharat Mission?
Under the 15th finance commission, we are getting tied funds for Clean Air and for solid waste management. We have set up our ‘garbage factory’ with this. Source segregation of waste is something we are working on. Door-to-door waste collection is something that we have invested in.
What milestones can we expect to see Ghaziabad achieve in the future?
We wanted to make legacy waste zero, and we have achieved that. In the next six months, we will have transfer stations with trenches in each zone, where all the waste of that ward will be collected, then taken for processing. In the long term, we want to become a zero-waste city. This is possible only if we focus on processing waste, with solutions for composting, recycling and refuse-derived fuel.