With M/s Antony Waste Handling Cell Private Limited backing out of the ambitious solid waste management project, the Amritsar Municipal Corporation is back to its old system of garbage collection through tractor trolleys. This 'lift-some, drop-some' makeshift arrangement has failed to offer any respite to the residents from the ubiquitous garbage heaps dotting various nooks and crannies of the city and the stench emanating from them.
While the MC claims to have pressed fifty of its 'own trolleys' into action for the purpose, nothing has been done to resume the door-to-door collection of garbage or justify its claims of garbage removal from various points, feel the residents. The MC's officials claimed that 50 trolleys had been spurred into action to deal with the garbage heaps. Besides these, six tippers and three ditch machines had been deputed to deal with more than 500 tonnes of garbage, produced daily, claimed the officials.
They added that of these 50 trolleys 13 were hired and paid between Rs 1200 to Rs 1500 per day for removing garbage from various collection points across the city. However, the residents of the city are not happy with this arrangement.
According to residents of Ranjit Avenue area, these trolleys are unheard of in this area. They added that a number of localities here had made their own arrangements for getting the garbage removed from their colonies on a daily basis. The same holds true for a number of other localities in the city where the residents have made their own arrangements for garbage disposal.
"Hardly any lifting of garbage is being undertaken in the city. The trolleys employed for this purpose spill more garbage on the roads than they pick, as they are not covered," said Harish Kumar, a resident. Sources termed it as a violation of one of the points of the plans prepared by the MC and the Punjab Pollution Control Board, which called for covering these trolleys.
Despite the passing of a week's time, and repeated reminders and assurances by the Municipal Corporation authorities, the situation of garbage lifting in the city remains unaltered.
In the last week, HT has twice highlighted the piling up of garbage outside two wards of the All India Pingalwara Charitable Society (AIPCS), the inmates of which include mentally and physically challenged members of the society.
However, despite assurances of prompt action by the MC Commissioner, the situation there remains unaltered. No garbage lifting has been seen at the two location in the entire last week.
"It has been nearly a week since we wrote the letter to MC requesting them to lift the garbage piled up outside Bhai Piara Singh Ward, but still no action has taken place. In fact the situation there has become so grave that it has become difficult to even enter the ward. We are afraid that the stint and filth will affect the health of the inmates," said Col. (retd.) Darshan Singh Bawa, administrator with AIPCS.
The situation of garbage lifting in the city has suffered since Antony waste handling private limited shut down its operations in the city last month over the alleged non-payment of dues by the MC. However, Dr. Yogesh Arora, Health officer with MC claimed that the reason was the strike by unrest of the company's employees.
For nearly a month now, the MC has been shouldering the responsibility of lifting garbage across the city. At present it has a work force of 1950 employees responsible for the lifting of garbage across the city, after 300 employees left last month.
Piles of garbage lying unattended, broken dustbins and garbage scattered across streets have become common sights in the city. Collections of garbage from residences as well as lifting from common points have both been affected. However, the officials refuse to agree that lifting of garbage is an issue. Instead they claim that it is the city residents who keep scattering garbage around the city.
"It is wrong to say that garbage is not being collected. Our team collects garbage from common points every morning, but the city residents keep throwing garbage throughout the day, which creates the problem. We have a garbage collection point outside Bhai Piara Singh ward from where every morning garbage is being lifted. But it is the hotel owners nearby who keep throwing garbage," claimed Dr. Arora.
He added that the MC had to remove garbage from the walled city area at least three times or more per day. "Had we not been removing garbage regularly, the city would have been besieged with mountains of garbage if people are able to understand how much 500 tonnes of garbage per day is," he said.