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Municipal Waste Management Models Outsourcing Under Scrutiny

India generates about 56,000 to 60,000 tonnes of garbage every day. The treatment and disposal of this huge volume of garbage is an issue with most Municipal Corporations. However, with the implementation of the MSW Act in 2000, effective management of waste has been made possible. The processing includes handling waste generation, segregation, storage, collection & transportation, processing (converting waste to energy) and disposal of waste. Even though each of these activities have been outsourced at one level or the other, certain cities like Ahmedabad and Pune have succeeded in creating a better model, while many others, especially bigger cities like Mumbai are facing obstacles right from the grassroots level.

Kolhapur is a small city but has bigger issues of disposal as there are no dumping grounds available at present. Faced with practical issues and dissatisfied with the service contractor, the Corporation is looking at getting the entire process done with its own staff.

At the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation, Ramky Enviro is handling the collection and transportation of waste. But Sanitation Officer-Health/SWM, Vinod M Dalvi is dissatisfied with outsourcing services. “Kolhapur is a small city of 543,000 population generating about 180 metric tonnes (mt) of garbage per day. Segregation at the primary level, except plastic to some extent, is hardly practiced. The city has bigger issues of disposal as there are no dumping grounds available at present.”

Mumbai where space is an issue asking people to store dry waste until it is periodically collected by the Municipal Corporation vehicle is a big combat. In this scenario, one cannot expect people to follow segregation at source stringently. In cases where people are practising segregation, there are instances of the dust bins instead of the garbage getting lifted from the doorsteps

While the Corporation is awaiting clearance for Sambapur dumping grounds and the composting plant to be set right in a short time, waste disposal will remain an issue. Faced with practical issues and dissatisfied with the service contractor, the Corporation is looking at getting the entire process done with its own staff. Under the 12th Finance Commission funding, the Corporation is already procuring RC compactors and hand carts for door-to-door collection of waste.

With the introduction of the Municipal Solid Waste Act, everything has become stringent right from collection, transportation and disposal, stated B.P. Patil, Chief Engineer-SWM, MCGM. “There are very few vendors who are engaged in this activity and the credentials of these contractors are questionable with respect to their experience and technological knowhow. As on today, outsourcing of essential activities does not seem to be the best solution.

“Even at MCGM, out of the 24 wards, services in three wards were to be outsourced. But because of issues of poor performance, the plans have been shelved. The integrity of the contracted labourers in discharging their duties diligently is an issue. Whether some of the houses are being skipped or whether the garbage stored in closed bins are being lifted daily is seriously being doubted. Unless the outsourced staff works sincerely and the supervisors of the Corporation keep proper checks, the outsourcing model will not meet success.”

Agreeing with B.P. Patil, Ramyakumar Bhatt, Assistant Municipal Commissioner-SWM, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, said, “Even though AMC has implemented a successful model of outsourcing, unless the supervision is stringent, there is always a possibility of contractors cutting corners. Besides, the contractors do not have much hold on the workers who are engaged on daily wages.

Failure of Community bins;  It’s a gory sight to see garbage all around the bins rather than inside it. Community bins have created more issues than solutions,” PMC“From the generation to end process in terms of collection, transportation and processing of garbage, the AMC has outsourced activities as far as possible. In the collection process, we have the ‘gate-to-dump’ system where closed body vehicles collect garbage from door to door and empty it into the localised compactor which carries it to the dumping ground. This way, segregation of domestic waste from other waste has become possible. Nevertheless, for the continued success of this waste management model, the contractor should be committed and he should be able to create a dedicated team around him.”

All said there is always scope for glitches with the breaking down of vehicles or errant workers skipping collection of garbage from certain houses or monsoon related issues cropping up.

Stressing on the supervision aspect, Dr AK Sahu, President-National Solid Waste Association of India, quoted an example of Bangladesh. In the 1990s, more than 50% of the corporators were women who used to stand on the streets every morning to supervise the municipal work. “In India, some parts of Kerala are following this model,” he added.

In the long run, if people are made to see the value addition in garbage collections through awareness programmes, it will help in making slums clean and garbage free.

The Pune Municipal Corporation follows the PPP model. With a population of 3.5million as per 2011 and a floating population of about three to four lakhs, Pune generates approximately 1400 metric tonnes of garbage each day.

Out of the 900,000 properties, 350,000 are covered by the waste pickers association – SWaCH (Solid Waste Collection & Handling) – which collects waste from door to door and gets paid by the citizens at the rate of `10 per month/per house. Nearly, 2200 workers, mostly women, are engaged in this activity. With the help of councillor’s funds, PMC has distributed two buckets each of 5lt capacity to households for segregating organic and recyclable waste.

“Hence, under this model both the responsibility and accountability rest with the waste pickers while the Corporation plays the vital role of coordinating between the citizens and the waste collectors. PMC is not directly involved in the payment structure too. Sanitary staff, inspectors and mukadam monitor the waste pickers, ensuring that they reach each household to collect garbage. In case of default, the concerned cooperative society calls up the sanitary inspector and SWaCH sends across its standby staff for collection,” explained Suresh Jagtap, Deputy Municipal Commissioner-SWM, Pune Municipal Corporation.

Besides the income collected from each household, the waste pickers also earn about `1500-2000 from the sale of waste. On an average, each waste picker earns about `3500-4500 each month. PMC has provided the waste pickers 90 ghanta trucks to cover 144 wards. About 120-135 metric tonnes of wet waste is collected from the households.

Around 25 ghanta trucks are used exclusively for collection of commercial waste of 125 metric tonnes from hotels. Four to five dumpers collect market waste of about 52-75 metric tonnes each day from each market. PMC also has provision of decentralised treatment facility with bio-gas plants of five metric tonnes capacity producing 300cubic metre gas. Out of that 450 units of electricity generated per day is consumed to power the streetlights.

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has implemented a successful model of outsourcing, right from the generation to end process in terms of collection, transportation and processing of garbage. This way, segregation of domestic waste from other waste has become possible.

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