Mumbai long ago established its status as India’s financial capital, but the country’s richest civic body still has no separate mechanism in place to collect the waste generated by business hubs.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) approach to the issue is that the waste generated by offices and shops does not differ from that of households - it’s only the quantity that is different.
“The waste-collecting vehicles designated for each ward also collect garbage from offices and theatres. The waste generated is not industrial waste and mostly includes wet waste (food, leftovers), paper and plastic and thus there is no need for a separate system yet,” said Prakash Patil, deputy municipal commissioner, solid waste management, BMC.
The waste generated by these establishments is collected along with the waste generated by households, for which a total of 2,680 trips are made every day by waste collection vehicles across the city.
The civic body has a different approach for restaurants. Because of the sheer volume of waste generated by restaurants – the majority of which is wet waste - the BMC separately collects garbage for them in a single shift starting at 11 every day. According to the BMC, restaurants and markets generate approximately 1,200 metric tonnes of waste daily.
In keeping with the Swachh Bharat campaign, the civic body initiated a drive last month against shops and restaurants found dumping garbage in their immediate surroundings and failing to segregate waste. The civic body aims to achieve 100% segregation by 2016. BMC’s circular compels restaurants to keep two separate dustbins for dry and wet waste, apart from keeping the premises clean. Restaurants could lose their licences if they fail to comply with these guidelines.
But despite sending seven lakh notices in this regard, the BMC has yet to initiate any concrete action. The notice has been criticised by traders and business associations, who feel the civic body’s approach is harsh. Many restaurant owners have alleged that waste collection vehicles are not sent to each establishment and thus they have to collect and transport garbage to the nearest waste collection chowkis in the ward.
“First of all, the BMC needs to upgrade its collection system with more dry waste vehicles and send them to each establishment,” said Niranjan Shetty, chairman, Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association (AHAR). Shetty further argues that these establishments already pay trade refuse charges to the civic body. The civic body collects trade refuse charges primarily to sweep, collect and deposit the waste produced while pursuing a trade, which establishments pay annually during license renewal. “They are still targeting us and not paying attention to hawkers who litter the streets. BMC collects that litter without imposing any fines on the miscreants,” said Shetty.