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Home > Interviews > Interview with: Mahesh Pathak, Integrated Solid Waste Management: Pune creates A perfect model

Interview with: Mahesh Pathak, Integrated Solid Waste Management: Pune creates A perfect model

Pune “The de-centralised waste management model adopted by Pune Municipal Corporation is one of the most successful in the country. This cost effective and eco friendly model has been highly recommended by Maharashtra government,” says Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak.

What are the waste management programmes implemented by the Pune Municipal Corporation?

PMC has adopted an integrated system to process garbage collection in the city. Various agencies /organisations like SWACH (Solid Waste Handlers and Collectors’ Society) and Mahila Sanghatana are engaged in the collection of waste from across the city. Out of the 144 municipal wards, 122 are covered under this programme. Around 1800 people work under SWACH and each rag-picker covers 250-300 households everyday. The Corporation has implemented the twin-bin system – green bin for collecting the organic waste and white for recyclable waste – and charges `10 per month/house. It has also equipped the rag-pickers with hand-cart, push-cart, buckets and safety gears. They are also covered under medical insurance scheme. Out of the nine lakh properties, nearly three lakh already have bins in place.

At the primary level, the waste identified by the corporation is collected from various locations by SWACH and transported to the processing unit at Hadapsar. The organic waste is sent to bio-gas plants. PMC has installed around 15 bio-gas plants, each with a capacity to process five metric tonnes (mt) of waste and with a total production of 300 cubic metres of methane gas, amounting to 450 units of power per day. The power generated from the bio-gas plant is used for lighting the street lamps in and around the plant areas.

Besides, with citizens cooperation, certain areas are achieving zero waste. Like in the Cantonment, the residents manage their waste in most places while the rest is maintained by PMC. There are mohalla committees and Resident Associations working towards 100% segregation. Some wards are also doing segregation at source to achieve ‘zero-garbage’ and are directly transporting segregated waste to the dumping site. All the processes are codified and training manuals too have been prepared. The successful implementation of various waste management schemes has resulted in the Katraj ward getting ISO certification. This model could be replicated for other municipal wards in future.

In a further move to encourage citizens to treat waste at source, PMC is providing a rebate of 5% on property tax to those engaging in vermi-composting practice. The Magarpatta city which has nearly five lakh flats generates five tonnes of waste everyday. They have an integrated waste management system and have also installed bio-gas plants with two tonne capacity within the premises. The energy generated from these plants is used for operating garden pumps, etc. This helps save excessive power requirements of the township. The non-biodegradable waste is disposed off safely and the re-usable waste is sold in scrap. PMC has made it mandatory for townships to have a vermi-compost or a biogas plant in their premises.

Through good audio/visuals and traditional media like kirtans, bhajans and street shows, the Corporation is trying to bring awareness among people. The Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Janwani (an NGO working in the field of governance) and some companies/industries are also sponsoring the maintenance of certain wards.

How is the waste being treated?

Since June 2010, we have stopped open dumping. At the Uruli Devachi dumping site, the waste is being processed with the help of Hanjar Biotech. In another project, Rochem Separation India Ltd under the DBOOT will be generating around 11.5MW electricity from waste using the pyrlyosis/ gasification technology. The methane gas that generates from the 25,000mt of garbage will be collected by the corporation. We are now claiming for Certified Emission Reductions or CERs (a type of emissions unit or carbon credits) issued by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) body. At present, we are managing with the Uruli plant but in case of a breakdown or the ramp becoming non-functional, it is very difficult to manage the waste. About 50-60% waste coming to this dumping ground is non-segregated garbage. The commission of the Rochem’s plant will increase garbage processing capacity and the plant will be able to take two-three days stock at a time. Our aim is to tackle 50tonnes of waste in the ward itself by creating more bio-gas facilities.

PMC collects around 125 tonnes of organic waste from commercial establishments, 90-110mt from rag-pickers and 50-70mt from the market. While the collection is done in two shifts, the organic waste, especially from hotels, is put into separate bio-degradable bags.

At one level PMC has made vermi-composting mandatory for townships; at another level it is spreading awareness through traditional media and good audio/visuals

The Corporation has around 200 vehicles for garbage collection and transportation. In order to reduce vehicle movement, a separate unload system – ‘Ramp’ – has been installed around the city. Instead of taking the waste to the process plant, the waste from each ward is brought to the ramp. The waste from smaller capacity vehicles are transferred to the Bulk Refuse Carrier and vehicles with bulk capacity are directly allowed into the processing plant. PMC has transfer stations at Aundh, Kothrud, Yerwada, Hadapsar, Katraj, Ghole Road and Dhole Patil Road.

What about the sanitation programmes?

The corporation has approximately 1500 public toilets. Some of these are being maintained by Sulabh International, some by Shelters and the rest by the Corporation. In 100 locations where open defecation is being practised, we are aiming to provide public toilets.

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