With M/s Antony Waste Handling Cell Private Limited backing out of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation's ambitious solid waste management project, obnoxious garbage heaps have started dotting various nooks and crannies of Amritsar much to the dismay of the residents, who have urged the MC to take steps to rid the city of mounds of garbage.
The problem has become more intense with the MC turning a blind eye to strictly imposing the ban on polythene bags, which have only been contributing to these growing garbage heaps and the thermocol plates and glasses that wind up on the roads in the aftermath of 'langars' organized on the roadsides. Sources said that even the grass that is mowed is often thrown into the garbage.
Even the MC's own sanitation staff, alleging non-payment of their dues plays spoilsport by holding strikes every now and then. Mission Aagaaz, an NGO dealing with environmental affairs, in a letter to the Municipal Commissioner has offered some suggestions for waste management, which, according to them, could go a long way in dealing with the dilemma posed by growing garbage heaps.
Deepak Babbar, Director, Mission Aagaaz, said that there is a ban on use of polythene, which, he said, exists only on papers. "Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has been quite vocal on the issue and also issued strict directions to prohibit the use of polythene bags. Ironically, hardly anything has been done in this regard. Plastic bags of every shape and size are being thrown in municipal waste leading to the death of animals and blockage of sewer system," he said.
He added that in the recent days a new trouble has come up. "People are holding roadside 'Langars' all over the city and thermocol plates are littered everywhere. The organizers are not made accountable for the waste thus produced. Whereas it is important that the residents be aware of their rights, they should also understand their duties and responsibilities in order to create clean environment and hygienic atmosphere," said Gurbhej Singh, General Secretary, Mission Aagaaz.
He maintained that it was painful to observe that no program of public involvement had been chalked out by the MC to make public aware of its duties, ever since it came into existence. Stating that countries nowadays were adopting the rule titled 'reduce, reuse, recycle', the office bearers of the NGO urged the MC to impose a strict ban on use of plastic bags, undertake door-to-door collection of garbage on fixed days as provided under Municipal Solid Waste Rules 2000, suggesting that only segregated waste should be picked up.
"There should be roadside bins. Some cities in India are already bin-less cities. There should be fixed days for grass cutting. The grass should be marketed. It will bring down the fodder prices and give additional revenue to the corporation. A meeting should be called inviting representatives of the public, trade and industry, educational institutions, hotel and tourism industry and intellectuals from Guru Nanak Dev University and all NGOs and a public awareness campaign of waste management be started," said Babbar.
He added that individuals and establishments should be encouraged to make their places zero garbage places and certificates of appreciation given to person/person achieving zero waste zones, while students in schools and colleges should be encouraged to participate in Best Waste Management Practices and told the advantages of a clean city. "Essay and poster competitions should be regularly organized on these topics," said Gurbhej Singh.
Municipal Commissioner Dharampal Gupta said that efforts were being made to streamline the process of lifting of garbage heaps. Stating that he was aware of the jumble created by the roadside 'langars', Gupta said that the organizers were time and again implored not to litter the roads and clean up the venue before leaving. "We are doing our best to implement the ban on polythenes and would try to ensure that the suggestions made by various NGOs in this regard too are implemented," he said.