The Mayoral committee made a volte-face on Thursday and said that same contractor will collect wet and dry waste.

No separate tender for dry and wet waste Disagreement brews in Bengaluru civic body
news Civic Issues Monday, May 06, 2019 - 17:15

For the first time, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had floated separate tenders for ward-wise dry and wet waste collection. The decision to have separate tenders was aimed at eliminating the problem of mixed waste ending up in landfills. The move was supported by activists and experts alike at a time when the BBMP was pulled by up courts over the city’s garbage mess.

However, in a curious turn of events on Thursday, a committee headed by Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun has objected to this and suggested a plan favourable to the contractors. The Mayoral committee suggested that the same contractor will collect wet and dry waste except in colour-coded vehicles assisted by public service announcements. Moreover, these contractors are given the option of handling waste from bulk waste generators like apartment complexes and commercial establishments.

However, sources said the Mayoral committee suggestions will not be accepted by the BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad.

Speaking to TNM, a top source in the BBMP explained, “We have received these recommendations of the committee. Since the Commissioner is the tender issuing authority, we have to factor in certain legal aspects, including all National Green Tribunal (NGT) rulings, High Court orders, solid waste management guidelines. Besides, the solid waste management guidelines clearly state that bulk waste has to be dealt through empanelled vendors. Now, the new model proposed by the Mayoral committee would require taxpayers money for bulk waste management.”

Top officials of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department told TNM that this system will only favour the contractors and also make enforcing segregation of waste difficult.

“Our initial proposal to float two separate tenders received good feedback, even from the media. The Mayoral committee had, in fact, agreed to the decision, but strangely, in the third meeting, it made a volte-face,” the source said.

“Cost is a major setback here. Today, independent waste pickers carry out dry waste management, which does not cost the BBMP anything. But, if we have to manage the entire dry waste, we have to do separate calculations and the cost will go up multifold. The applies to bulk waste. We have never envisaged the scale of handling the bulk waste. Currently, bulk waste is collected by BBMP empanelled vendors who collect waste in exchange for a fee from the establishments,” the source elucidated.

Incidentally, the committee headed by the Mayor also has the Commissioner, Solid Waste Management Joint Commissioner and other SWM officials with the majority of the 15 members being elected councillors, including the Leader of Opposition in the BBMP council, Padmanabha Reddy.

However, none of the IAS officers, including Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad were present when this decision was taken, top sources confirmed.

TNM could not reach the Mayor or the Leader of Opposition in the BBMP council at the time of writing this report.

With the Model Code of Conduct still in place, a final decision is still awaited.

‘Do away with contract system’

Kathyayini Chamaraj, a civic activist, said while the initial plan was not ideal, it would have solved the problem of mixed waste to some extent.

Kathyayini, who is also the executive trustee of CIVIC (a citizens’ group), said, “The initial tender would have at least solved the problem of mixed waste and the waste dumped by contractors on roadsides and landfills. But the BBMP should ideally do away with the contract system that exploits pourakarmikas and raises false bills. Besides, the state cabinet had decided to abolish the contract system for pourakarmikas. Instead of relying on contractors, BBMP should help these pourakarmikas form Self Help Groups and employ them and provide them with vehicles.”

She added, “Waste management is BBMP’s obligatory function and BBMP should employ workers directly and ensure better working conditions.”

 

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