Poor waste disposal management is pushing some of the Indian cities face a waste management crisis. After conducting repeated segregation awareness programmes, two of the municipal corporations in Karnataka have cracked the problem by imposing tax for door-to- door waste collection and disposal.
Speaking to Vijayalakshmi Sridhar of Clean India Journal, on the utilization of the tax gathered, Raghavendra Kadekar, Environment Engineer, Udipi City Municipal Council, said: “Currently Udipi generates 56-60 tonnes of waste daily. The management expenses are taken principally from the property tax which consumes 40-50% of the municipal budget. But, the SWM tax amount now will facilitate cost effective collection, storage, transportation, process and disposal. The amount will also instill a sense of discipline and inspire people to demand services from the municipality.”
Meanwhile, the Mangaluru City Corporation has initiated door-to- door collection of wet waste six days a week and dry waste only on Wednesdays. While the west waste is being tied in plastic bags and deposited in the bins, there is mixed waste that is being carelessly thrown around by households or littered on the streets. Hence, wastes cannot be segregated and decomposed properly. When the quantity of inerts increase, the life of the landfill comes down. However, if segregation is done properly, all wet waste can be composted, dry waste sent for recycling and only the inerts sent to landfills.
The introduction of SWM Cess, collected along with the property tax, will bring the necessary change in the minds of the public, Madhu S. Manohar, Environmental Engineer of Mangalore City told CIJ. “The Cess has been introduced to all the residences, commercials, non-residences, industries, etc., based on the plinth area of the building. For example: <500sqft is charged Rs240/-, 501-1000 sqft Rs480/-, 1001-2000sqft Rs720/- and >2000sqft Rs960/- per annum.”
Right now, 100% collection is not happening in cities and only 30% of the collected waste reaches the landfill. After the tax imposition, there is a likelihood for 90% collection. Wherever the tax collection has been implemented, manual handling of waste has also been brought down. With smart investment, the hydraulic vehicles deployed for collection can be tracked with GPS.
The public response to SWM Cess has been mixed so far. “With a view to streamline things and to make this method sustainable, we are planning to collect user SWM fee from all households. Meanwhile, imposition of fines is also in the pipeline,” Raghavendra said.
Looking ahead, there are some ways to make the waste collection and disposal sustainable. The first would be to have decentralized processing facilities dedicated to each city, so that the manure generated out of composting can be sold/used exclusively. Regular upgradation and maintenance of the facilities along with periodical training on modern processing and disposal techniques and methodologies will help them toe the line. As far as the continuing public education is concerned, Madhu said, “ The awareness on segregation and littering have to be leveraged and 100% collection of SWM Cess will definitely help smoothen the process.”