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Indian cities need solutions for legacy waste management

Iresh Anchatageri, Mayor, Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation

It goes without saying that apart from a conscientious urban local body, political will and support is integral to keeping a city clean. In a tête-à-tête on the sidelines of the Clean India Technology Week 2022, Iresh Anchatageri, Mayor, Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, which serves the twin cities of Hubli and Dharwad in Karnataka, spoke to Clean India Journal about the challenges of city cleaning and waste management in Tier II cities and how they plan to catch up with model cities.

What relevant solutions did you find at the Expo?

At the 18th Clean India Technology Week, I have found recently introduced technologies which will be of use to urban local bodies in the near future. Many municipal corporations are using old or conventional equipment for city cleaning and waste management; I came to look for new solutions based on new concepts, and have found many.

I found a solution that will help us tag vehicles involved in door-to-door waste collection, and an electric vehicle whose battery can be charged at a lesser cost than relying on conventional fuel, helping us save tremendously on diesel costs and manpower.

What is the present status of city cleaning and waste management in Hubli-Dharwad?

In every area of Hubli-Dharwad, waste collection vehicles go for door-to-door cleaning, collecting wet and dry waste separately. We convert organic waste into compost.

We have one vehicle each for road sweeping in Hubli and Dharwad; most road sweeping is still done manually. We want to graduate completely to mechanised sweeping, where one machine can do the work of ten people, and the results are better too. This will be especially useful at high-traffic spots like markets and bus stands, where there is aggregation of people on the road.

How are you dealing with legacy waste?

We have 4.9 metric tonnes of legacy waste, which tends to catch fire and cause air pollution, besides occupying large tracts of land and presenting tremendous problems.

To deal with this, we have discussed a waste-to-energy project with the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd, which is pending sanction. We are also in talks with a private company that converts legacy waste into coal. They will invest in the project themselves, and safely process all the legacy waste within 2 years. We are weighing our options and figuring out which one is more viable.

What other challenges do you face?

Another problem we face is plastic waste. Gutkha packets, which litter roads, account for 30-40% of the dry waste we collect. Sweeping the road just pushes them further along the road. Used milk packets also account for 10% of dry waste; there are no alternatives to milk packets. We are looking for solutions that can help us tackle these problems.

We want to use funds to create long term impact, by conclusively dealing with existing problems and avoiding such problems in the coming years. Cities like Indore and Mysore are models for us.

We have made local people brand ambassadors of cleanliness. These aren’t just some people on hoardings, but those who live in the community and go out clean themselves. This inspired other people to join them, and has been a very successful program.

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