The city, which ranked second cleanest in the country in the Swachh Sarvekshan-2016 survey, is struggling
Waste segregation and recycling
Of the 370 tonnes of waste generated in Chandigarh daily, 270 tonnes goes to a garbage processing plant run by a private company which makes refuse-derived fuel pellets. The remaining 100 tonne goes directly to the dumping site. As is the wont of dumping grounds across the country, here too those living around the site have to suffer the most. The private operator has also threatened to shut down the plant if Municipal Corporation Chandigarh (MCC) does not pay the tipping fee. The Corporation on the other hand, refuses any payment on the ground because it transports the waste to the plant.
One of the solutions to reduce the amount of garbage produced is to segregate at source and recycle, both which are yet to be started at Chandigarh. In fact, this is the reason the city falls behind Mysore in the survey. Mysore segregates at source and has nine waste segregation plants that focus on producing quality manure. The sale of manure and dry waste like plastic adds to the revenue of its Municipal Corporation.
MCC Joint Commissioner Rajiv Gupta claims that efforts are already afoot in this direction in Chandigarh as well. “We are starting a pilot soon in four sectors for source-based segregation. Besides this, a 5 tonne capacity biomethanation plant will start operating next month, which will generate electricity from organic waste,” he says.
Door-to-door garbage collection, which was initially handled by residents’ welfare associations and NGOs by engaging contractual labourers, is now dominated by a few private contractors. In 2012, the garbage collectors had gone on strike when the Corporation decided to hire contractual employees with modified rates for a pilot project. Later, a compromise was reached by limiting the project to market portions of the selected area, and it remains that way to date. In such a scenario, segregating waste at source will be tough.
Last year, the MCC issued 3,543 challans to people found littering in public spaces and earned Rs 6 lakh in fine. Those not willing to pay up were prosecuted in court taking the task to its meaningful end. Considering that segregation is the weakest link in Chandigarh’s success story, MCC will do well to get its act together here as well. Like Mysore, having separate segregation plants and involving citizens will help manage its waste better.