Not so long ago, Dehradun employed a private firm for door-to-door garbage collection. The firm began the job in August 2011 under an agreement that they will collect waste for a fee from 60 wards, recycle it and sell for a profit. However, bureaucracy played its part well, and the firm called it quits in 2014 because they reportedly ran into losses after their plans got entangled in red tape at various levels.
From March 2014, the civic body has been scooping up trash from its 60 wards and dumping it in the city outskirts, battling shortage of men and machine.
Dearth of workers
The civic body has spread its sanitation staff thin, which is often blamed for the shoddy work.
The Municipal Solid Waste Management Manual norms say there should be at least 28 sanitation workers for every 10,000 people in an urban municipality. According to the 2011 Census, the population within the local body limits is around 5.74 lakh, which means they should be having a battalion of around 2,000 conservancy workers on its roll.
However, the civic body has only 646 permanent sanitation workers apart from around 115 contractual workers, who sweep roads and public places, collect garbage and transport it to dustbin.
The former chairperson of Uttarakhand Commission for Safai Karmacharis, Bhagwat Prasad Makwana, said more sanitation workers needed to be urgently recruited to keep pace with the growing population and expanding corporation area.
“With ever-growing demographics of the municipal body area, recruitment of fresh sanitation workers has become imminent,” he said.
And the rising workload is breaking their back, said sanitation workers.
“Because of acute dearth in their numbers, each sanitation employee is burdened with tremendous workload which further impacts their efficiency,” said Madan Valmiki, the leader of the DMC branch of Uttaranchal Swachchkar Karmachari Sangh, an association of sanitation workers.
Shortage of supervisors
The staff crunch reflects across the chain of command.
Ward supervisors, who monitor sweeping of streets, public places, drains and garbage disposal in their respective areas, too, are in short supply.
The Dehradun civic body has 60 sanctioned posts of ward supervisors when at least twice the number is required.
Ward supervisors claim multi-tasking dilutes their efficiency.
“Each one of us has to look after multiple duties on a daily basis which affects our overall performance," said Ajay Jaggi, the supervisor of wards Kishan Nagar and Kaulagarh.
Lack of resources
According to officials, the civic body is making work happen in 60 wards with machines just enough for 45 wards.
“Most of the garbage collection vehicles were bought under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission’s solid waste management project in 2011 for 45 wards,” said Dr RK Singh, a senior municipal health officer.
The civic body has 40 mini trucks for door-to-door garbage collection, of which only 30 are road-worthy. Of the eight dumpster trucks, only five are functional. Two bigger trucks procured for lifting waste lie defunct.
Municipal commissioner Nitin Singh Bhadauria said: “Frequent breakdown of garbage collection vehicles is also a major concern for us. At present, one garbage vehicle is covering two wards, making it difficult for us to operate the garbage disposal mechanism in the best way possible.”