First, Bengaluru’s pourakarmikas, the civic workers in the city, don’t get paid for over six months. Then, after much protesting and pleading, a worker commits suicide, and only then the BBMP released funds for their salaries.
This perpetual inconsistency has characterised the BBMP for the last two years and Bengaluru’s pourakarmikas, who live in extreme poverty, are forced to bear the brunt. They borrow money from local moneylenders to survive as the BBMP does not pay them regularly.
Every time pourakarmikas raise the issue and stage protests, BBMP officials and corporators outrage about the injustice doled out to the pourakarmikas in the council meetings. Every time there is an outrage, a garbage management plan is tabled in the council. But all of these proposals have remained just that – proposals. There has been no implementation of these schemes.
After the tragic death of 40-year-old pourakarmika Subramani, BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad proposed another garbage management plan in the BBMP council meeting on Thursday.
This plan is supposed to plug all the discrepancies in garbage management and ensure that the pourakarmikas are not inconvenienced, and, at the same time, also ensure that garbage is not seen lying around the city streets.
BBMP Commissioner’s proposal
According to Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, the BBMP has conducted a time and motion study to determine the number of pourakarmikas needed to sweep minor and intermediate roads in the city. Minor roads are those which are less than 40 m in width. Intermediate roads are somewhere between 40 m and 80 m in width.
The BBMP is also in the process of digitising every road in the city. “There are 93,000 roads including major, intermediate and minor roads running across 14,000 km in BBMP limits,” he said.
Once the digitisation is done, the number of pourakarmikas needed to clean the roads, according to the estimates of the BBMP Solid Waste Management Roundtable, one pourakarmika is necessary to sweep 500 m of roads.
“The current rule that one pourakarmika must be employed for every 700 houses will be scrapped once the council passes a resolution to adopt the new rules for garbage management tenders,” the Commissioner said.
The BBMP has also pegged the number of auto tippers necessary to collect dry and wet waste at 4,000 with one auto for 750 households.
BBMP is also planning to stop using compactors and instead set up garbage transfer stations. Two adjacent wards will have one transfer station and the auto tippers will have to dump the garbage directly into the garbage cylinders located in these stations, instead of unloading into a compactor.
“Currently, contractors are using goods autos instead of auto tippers. For the new tender rules, goods autos will not be allowed and only auto tippers will be allowed, as unloading will be easy. The problem with goods autos is that the garbage is dumped from the auto to the road and then loaded into the compactor. This results in garbage being dumped on the roads,” said Ramakanth, a member of the BBMP Solid Waste Management Roundtable.
These auto tippers will have a GPS installed in them to monitor their movements and ensure that they are following the designated path.
“With the elimination of compactors, the BBMP will be saving a lot of money. Besides, the transfer stations do not need that much space. It just requires a 1,200 sq ft space. Here, the garbage will be dumped in the compressors. The compressors will remove the leachates, which will go to the leachate treatment plant and the purified water can be used for construction and other activities,” Ramakanth added.
The compressed garbage is put into a cylinder, which is then sent to the composting unit. “This will eliminate the accumulation of garbage at the composting centres. Currently, the BBMP is spending Rs 1,000 crore on garbage collection alone. This cost can be reduced to Rs 500-600 crore per year,” BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said.
According to Ramkanth, if implemented, the plan could change the garbage management system in the city and can ensure cleaner public spaces.
However, a source with the BBMP said that even though similar proposals were made in the past, the council members never passed resolutions to implement them, which led to the plans being placed on the backburner.
“Even now, the major problem is that the corporators must pass the resolution in the council. Every corporator makes money through the garbage transportation system and whenever proposals have been made to plug the loopholes in the system, they were never implemented. This plan is brilliant but the problem lies in the implementation. The death of the pourakarmika should at least drive them to pass this resolution, but it remains to be seen whether they will or not. We can say that the BBMP is taking a step towards cleaning up the city only after the council agrees to the new tender rules,” a senior BBMP official told TNM.