It looks like Bengaluru’s garbage mess is here to stay for longer, as the city's civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has not found the best way to deal with waste management. Despite multiple warnings from the Karnataka High Court over the waste management issue the city is facing, there have been delays one after another, in awarding new tenders for doorstep waste collection.
On Thursday, Mayor Gautham Kumar proposed to follow the waste collection model being implemented by Indore (Madhya Pradesh), where wet waste and dry waste are collected in two separate compartments of the same vehicle. Incidentally, Indore topped the Swachh Bharat rankings for two consecutive years.
In Bengaluru, as per the current system, wet and dry waste are collected together from households. This mixed waste is then dumped in landfills, which is in contravention of the Solid Waste Management Guidelines. The rule mandates segregation of waste at source.
In April this year, in order to eliminate the problem of mixed waste ending up in landfills, the Palike had mooted the idea of floating separate tenders for dry waste and wet waste collection from households every day for all the 198 wards in the city. This means, two companies will collect dry and wet waste separately. The idea was also supported by activists and experts alike, a rarity for the BBMP.
Besides, top officials had earlier said that conditions for separate tenders were finalised in accordance with certain legal aspects, including all National Green Tribunal (NGT) rulings, High Court orders and solid waste management guidelines.
However, in May, the then Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun and other corporators in the city opposed the proposal, demanding one tender for all types of waste. This had caused a huge delay in issuing the tender and meant that the current system of collecting wet waste and dry waste together continues. Later, litigations at the Karnataka High Court over some tender clauses also deferred the process.
When asked about the Indore model, BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar said the civic body is still mulling over it, but whatever the decision is, it will be implemented swiftly.
“We are yet to decide which option is better. We are not sure if we should go ahead with the existing tender (floated in April) or float another new tender (based on the current Mayor’s suggestion),” Anil Kumar told TNM.
If April’s proposal (separate tenders) were to be implemented, the BBMP Commissioner said, there is also a policy issue. The officials want wet waste to be picked by contractors and dry waste by waste pickers. Adding dry waste collection to the contract will prove costly. The system will cost the Palike much more. In the BBMP’s proposed plan, dry waste is to be collected free of cost by independent waste pickers.
A Solid Waste Management official said, “One agency alone should not be given the task of collecting both types of waste. It will inadvertently lead to mixing of waste. If there is a separate waste collection, then half of the garbage problem is solved. But the call has to be taken by the Commissioner.”