Segregation at source is a challenge area and MCGM has achieved limited success despite the implementation of door-to-door collection of waste. “The success of waste management largely depends on public awareness of giving away waste only to the Corporation workers or discarding it at designated collection bins and adherence to waste segregation as per the guidelines.”
Even though the whole of Greater Mumbai has been covered under the door-to-door collection plan, segregation at source is still a distant dream. “Seven different routes have been identified for garbage collection. Dry garbage, wet garbage, silt and debris, market waste and slaughter house waste are collected and processed separately.”
The daily transportation of waste is carried out in two shifts with an average number of 1,000 to 1,354 trips per day. “Dumpers and trucks are being slowly replaced with compactors and wheelie bins which can automatically be attached to the compactors at the time of collection thus reducing manual intervention for transferring garbage.”
Mechanization of waste collection and transportation follows the mandate set by MSW rules, 2000.
MCGM enforced segregation in 1997 through the Advance Locality Management (ALM) and Slum Adoption Programmes (SAP) in 2002. The attempts were unsuccessful but they left good imprints over the current waste management programme.
“The Corporation now has over 11 structured private centres and additional open segregation centres that allow recycling of around two tonnes of waste per ward. For dry waste, more than 20 sorting centres operated by NGOs sort the waste and send it to specific material recyclers.
“In fact, recycling begins at the household level, where valuable materials are removed. The process continues with rag-pickers further removing remaining valuable materials from the dumped waste. This kind of recycling reduces the volume of waste the Corporation has to handle.”
In the present scenario, most of the garbage gets dumped in landfills that are usually located in densely populated areas. In order to reduce the odour and health nuisances stemming from the landfill, MCGM engages tractors mounted with spraying equipment to spray water mixed with eco-friendly disinfectants in the landfills. Since dumping grounds have productive/carrying capacity, MCGM keeps looking for augmenting the disposal capacity by a combination of acquiring new sites and employing better technology so as to minimize the amount of waste reaching landfills. MCGM is also currently working on evaluating different technologies including recycling and disposal methods to optimize the available land for disposal and also recover recyclable waste as much as possible from the garbage.
“Most of the waste processing plants in the city make use of composting technology along with the usage of bio-reactors. New technology like bio-methane generation is being introduced sparingly; there are plans to construct a plant in Mulund and three more in the city. A company has already been identified that will turn organic waste into pellets and debris which are being used to fill the lands in preparation of construction of the bio-reactors.”
The major hurdles in establishing waste processing plants are the lack of land and availability of advanced technology in waste treatment processes.
Many big commercial establishments are expected to dispose off their own waste. There are seven bio-gas plants in the city that have been set up by Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Power, Bharat Petroleum etc., to treat wet waste that is generated by their facilities reducing the amount of waste the Corporation has to handle. Organizations disposing off their own waste will greatly reduce the waste landing in the dumping site. These organizations are legally bound and monitored by MPCB.
Private operators have been working in tandem with the Solid Waste Management Department of MCGM for collection and transportation of waste. ‘Mumbai Swachatha Programme’ has been implemented that covers slum areas, where collection and transportation system have been started. The MCGM has ownership of less than 19% of land, but maintains almost whole of the city, including beaches and highways. Over 2000km of roads in the city are cleaned almost daily by 28,000 workers along with machines which are used to maintain highways.
It is only through the awareness programmes that the public can be engaged to support plans for efficient waste management.
The SWM department receives bad publicity due to overflowing drains and other nuisance pertaining to sewerage facilities in the city. “Only 65% of the city has sewerage coverage; 35% of the sewerage ends up flowing into the sea or backflows on to the roads. The resulting nuisance is not due to solid waste or garbage, but due to sludge. To tackle the sewerage problem, STPs are also being constructed including a project with assistance from the World Bank that would treat black water from drains.”
The total solid waste generation in Greater Mumbai is expected to reach about 10,000MTD by 2025. With the landfills nearing their full capacity, it has become necessary for the Corporation to identify additional disposal sites and adopt technology and mechanisms that ensure substantial reduction in the quantity of waste to be land filled. Prakash Patil feels that it is only through comprehensive and collective efforts of each department of the Corporation can the dream of a clean and healthy Mumbai be realised.