Delhi civic bodies say they spent ₹11,750 crore on sanitation over last 5 years
The data submitted by the respective departments of environment management services (sanitation departments) claims that the South MCD spent ₹6,284.6 crore, the North MCD spent ₹4,998.12 crore, while the East corporation spent ₹476.6 crore on refuse removal, cleaning of drains and other cleaning operations from 2016-17 to 2020-21
The three municipal corporations of Delhi have spent over ₹11,750 crore on sanitation and cleaning services in the Capital over the last five years, said the three civic bodies in an official reply to a question in the Delhi Assembly.
The data submitted by the respective departments of environment management services (sanitation departments) claims that the South MCD spent ₹6,284.6 crore, the North MCD spent ₹4,998.12 crore, while the East corporation spent ₹476.6 crore on refuse removal, cleaning of drains and other cleaning operations from 2016-17 to 2020-21. While the three civic bodies continue to fare poorly in the sanitation markers and annual Swachh Surveskhan (cleanliness survey) rankings, the last five-year period witnessed heavy mechanisation of the garbage collection mechanism with the introduction of fixed/mobile compactors, auto-tippers and loaders as garbage transportation was outsourced to private concessionaires at the zonal level.
Of the 48 assessed urban local bodies in Swachh Survekshan 2021, two of the three municipal corporations in Delhi finished in the bottom 10. The rankings declared in November last year show that the East MCD ranked 40th, South MCD 31st and North MCD 45th--fourth-last from the bottom.
In the 2020 survey, the East, South and North corporations were ranked 46th, 31st and 43rd, respectively. The civic bodies oversee the housekeeping work of 272 municipal wards that house around 96% of the Capital’s population.
A break-up of the expenditure shows that a large component of the expenditure on sanitation is spent on refuse removal, salaries and motor workshops or transportation vehicles. In the case of North corporation, for instance, ₹4,768 crore was spent on the DEMS department, ₹119 crore on refuse removal, ₹66.5 crore on motor workshop and ₹7.6 crore on compost plans during this period. The civic body also procured 26 tipper trucks each at a cost of ₹20.31 lakh for the Narela zone.
The East civic body bought 20 trucks and a loader for its fleet. However, the data does not include details of the vehicles deployed by private concessionaires. A senior municipal official from the sanitation department said that the cost should be taken into context. “We are talking about daily collection and transportation of over 12,350 tonnes of municipal solid waste every day. The overall cost should be seen in terms of managing waste for a city with a population of over 20 million and severe space constraints,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Currently, around 85% of the city’s garbage is collected by municipal corporations and much of it — 55% — ends up in the three overexploited landfills in Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa.
Experts argue that the focus on municipal sanitation expenditure should shift from garbage transportation incentivisation to decentralised systems, resource recovery and segregation.
Chitra Mukherjee, a consultant on circular economy and sustainable livelihood said Delhi’s civic bodies continue to collect unsegregated waste from households and dump it in open dumpyards mostly within the city.
“Waste recycling and resource recovery are not prioritised even though 15-20% of the waste can be recovered. Three-fourths of the municipal budget goes to collection and transportation, leaving very little for resource recovery and disposal. Processing waste rather than landfilling is the solution. Delhi relies on a largely informal sector of waste pickers to collect, segregate and recycle waste. Yet they remain unacknowledged and unrewarded,” she said.
Mukherjee added that civic bodies need to follow Solid Waste Management Rules. Waste segregation, decentralised treatment and incorporation of the informal sector in waste collection have also been mandated in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and Delhi bye-laws but their implementation has been an uphill task.
Mayor of East corporation Shyam Sunder Aggarwal said that bio-mining of landfill sites, the introduction of fixed/mobile compactors and closing of dhalaos (garbage receptacle points) have been the key achievements of the civic body.
“We are also operating 40 sprinklers for pollution control and 10 mechanical road sweepers for dust control on PWD roads. Money spent should be put in context. EDMC areas alone have a population of 8 million, with some wards housing over 120,000 inhabitants,” he said.
Aggarwal said the East corporation has also started the door-to-door collection of garbage through private concessionaires last year. “During cleanliness surveys, we are compared to cities with a population of 1 million, but our challenges and scale are entirely different. Delhi does not have the luxury of space for waste management and our population is at a different scale,” he said.
With the addition of Shahadra South and North zones, nine out of 12 administrative zones now have private concessionaires handing waste collection while the North MCD is also in the middle of the process of covering the three remaining zones-- Narela, Karol Bagh and City Sadar-Paharganj--under a similar system.
Leader of the Opposition in the North corporation Vikas Goyal said that sanitation is the primary job of the corporation and it has been a complete failure.
“We have mounds of garbage at all entry points of the city, our lanes are not cleaned on time, the workers are not paid salaries on time, and the MCD has failed in its primary role. While the population of city has expanded, no new posts for sanitation staff have been created in the last two decades. A large chunk of funds are wasted in corruption,” he alleged.