The much-awaited project of solid-waste management and door-to-door collection of garbage will probably be started in the city this month.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has reportedly issued strict directives to the municipal corporation (MC) authorities in this regard.
The project was likely to begin from August 15 and JITF Ecopolis, company that was assigned the project, had set up the infrastructure and recruited staff for the purpose.
A ward-wise survey was also conducted by the company, but the project was put on hold by the MC after facing stiff opposition from various safai sewak unions.
The MC decided to speed up the implementation process in view of the protest staged by workers of safai sewak unions on October 3. The workers had protested against the non-payment of salaries to contractual sweepers employed by the MC. They had littered the MC office with garbage and had broken the door of the office of senior deputy mayor Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia in resentment.
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has also asked the district administration to submit an affidavit by October 10, mentioning the date when the project would be started. The project is likely to start this month.
"We are determined to make this project a reality. City roads remain full of garbage due to casual approach of safai workers. Even locals have requested us to start the project as soon as possible," said Bhatia, adding that they were awaiting necessary instructions from the state government.
Those who have issued press releases demanding early start of the project are Ekta welfare society, District Bar Association, Sikh Taalmel committee, Phagwara Gate market association, New Rasila Nagar welfare society and various industrial houses of the city.
MC employees, on the other hand, are staging protests in various parts of the city against the project. They have even threatened to go on a strike if the project was launched.
"If the project starts, several Dalit families will suffer. We want that the door-to-door collection should be taken up by safai sewaks and, thereafter, MC employees should take up the garbage till the dumping point at Waryana. The company can start garbage disposal thereafter," said Chandan Grewal, a union leader.
Mayor Sunil Jyoti said: "We have agreed to major demands of the union leaders. They want restoration of pension scheme for safai sewaks, increase in leave from 180 to 300 days, restoration of gratuity and introduction of ex gratia for safai sewaks. We have agreed to all of them after consulting senior officials of the department. We cannot allow them to collect garbage as we have signed an agreement with JITF officials and we cannot go out of it."
An official at JITF Ecopolis said: "We are ready to operate and waiting for the MC's call. We are at loss as our workforce is idle. We hope that the MC solves issues with the union leaders at the earliest."
How the project would operate
Under the project, two dustbins - green and blue - will be provided to every household to segregate biodegradable (in green) and non-biodegradable (in blue) waste at collection points.
The company's employees will collect solid waste from homes and carry it to a dumping site where covered bins would be placed by the company. Around 75 ward-wise dumping points have been identified in various areas of the city.
GPS-enabled tipper vehicles would collect the garbage from these dustbins. The vehicles would be monitored by the company's executive for deviations.
Through an application, the system will automatically generate alerts if the garbage bins are not cleared once every 12 hours. To facilitate coordination between the residents and field staff a complaint redressal system will also be launched with a toll-free number.
Municipal Corporation will also keep an eye on the dumping sites by clicking snapshots using webcams which will be transferred immediately to the MC's server for online monitoring.
The tippers will then carry the garbage to the dumping site at Wariyana.