BMC struggles to plan waste management

  • Chetna Yerunkar and Sanjana Bhalerao, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 02, 2016 00:36 IST

The Bombay high court has asked Mumbai’s civic body not to allow new constructions until it can come up with an efficient way to manage the city’s waste, but a quick look at the state of waste management shows there is a long way to go.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) plan to close down dumping grounds, process waste and add new landfill sites are still in various stages of planning — even as the threat of another fire at Deonar, where most of the waste goes looms.

The HC on Monday restrained BMC from granting permissions to new residential or commercial construction projects, including hotels, until it makes substantial compliance of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000. The order came in view of the BMC’s and state’s failure to comply with MSW rules – the BMC has asked for extensions to close down landfill sites at Mulund and Deonar and set up plants for treating waste.

While the HC order will have a huge impact on the real estate sector – as developers will have to put several new projects on hold – civic officials say they are yet to figure out what the impact would be, as they don’t know at what stage construction needs to be stopped.

“We are waiting for the order. After studying it, we will know whether to stop giving permission to new proposals or not give occupation certificates to buildings being built,” said a senior official.

The state government had laid down an elaborate plan for collection, transport and disposal of garbage 16 years ago, under the MSW Rules.

The rules state BMC should use appropriate technology to treat waste and reduce the burden on landfills.

To date, the dumping grounds at Mulund and Deonar get most of the city’s waste – 6,500 metric tonnes a day, all of which goes untreated. Of the 9,500 metric tonnes of waste generated daily, only 3,000 metric tonnes is treated at Kanjurmarg, the rest just dumped at Deonar and Mulund.

The rules came into effect in 2000, and the civic body had time till 2003 to comply with them. No serious steps were taken and the BMC failed to close both landfill sites.

It then requested the court to extend the deadline – it was extended to February 25, 2016 – but this could not be met either. The BMC had applied for further extension. It was while granting this extension, till 2019, that the court stayed new constructions.

The BMC’s plan to scientifically close the Mulund dump, the city’s second-largest, will take another nine months to just begin.

After that, the lessons learned there will be replicated at Deonar, where the threat of pocket fires and increase in air pollution still looms.

The uncontrolled dumping of waste at Deonar over the years resulted in the massive fire last month.

Trapped methane gas inside the dump stoked the fire for a week, with many pocket fires after that. But BMC is yet to finalise even temporary measures to tackle such a fire.

This procedure to close the existing dumping grounds, process waste and add new landfill sites will go on for another three years, the civic body said. So far, tenders have been floated to appoint contractors to process waste at Mulund; four hectares will be given inside the dumping ground to contractors to set up a processing plant.

The civic body will also get 52 hectares of land near Kanjurmarg, with which it aims to increase its capacity to 6,000 tonnes. The plan to add land fill sites will take until December 2019.

The state government has allotted a 52.10-hectare plot at Taloja in Navi Mumbai for disposing of solid waste from Mumbai and other municipal corporation, but the state owns only a part of it – 39.19 hectares. The rest needs to be acquired. A substantial part of the 39.19 hectares plot is also encroached upon. The state government has also given BMC 32.77 hectares near the Airoli bridge.

Ironically Mumbai ranked 10th on the cleanliness survey report, last month.

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