Civic bodies not utilising road sweeping machines fully: TERI
Almost five years after the municipal corporations introduced mechanical road sweeping machines as part of efforts to bring down dust pollution, the civic bodies are struggling to ensure their optimal use.
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which has been roped in by the four civic bodies in Delhi to audit the performance of these machines, has red flagged issues that need to be addressed for their effective and efficient utilisation.
There are 56 mechanised road sweeping machines with the four civic bodies — East Delhi, North Delhi and South Delhi municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council. As per TERI’s findings, a machine sweeps 20-42kms per day (during 8-10 hour shift) using 80-100 litres of diesel—the auxiliary machine which is used to sweep the road consumes 12 litres of diesel per hour.
“This average sweeping output is very less,” said Sourabh Manuja, fellow at Environment and Waste Management Division at TERI, who is heading the audit team. Each machine costs nearly ₹60-70 lakh and has a life of just 10 years being diesel-run machines.
Manuja said, “As these machines can only run for just 10 years, the corporations should ensure that a machine sweeps nearly 80-100 kms per day for optimal utilisation. We have recommended that the machines should be run on double shifts and also switch to clean fuel (CNG/electricity).”
TERI started the audit for South Delhi Municipal Corporation last year in July, while it recently started the audit for New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
As per TERI experts, it is only NDMC which is running four out of 10 machines on double shifts.
One of the key problems pointed out by TERI experts for low performance of these machines is regarding the operation and maintenance.
The South corporation and NDMC have kept the maintenance of these machines with them, while the North and East corporations have outsourced it.
TERI experts recommend that the maintenance of the machines should be completely outsourced. Manuja said, “The machines are off the road for longer duration in case a spare part is needed for repair. We found that the systems in corporations are such that it takes longer to carry out basic repair and also the spare parts are not easily available in the market. Moreover, there is no centralised spare part store with the corporations. The corporations should outsource the maintenance of these machines.”
Citing the case of South Delhi Municipal Corporation—TERI is conducting the audit since July last year—Manuja said, “Although last year (July 2018-Jan 2019) the average output was only about 14 km per shift. Due to interventions by the south corporation the output was increased to 26 km per shift in May-June 2019. Due to frequent breakdown and delay in repair and maintenance, the average road length swept by south corporation has dropped to 24 km per shift after June this year. We have pointed this in our audit report which was submitted to them in July-end this year.”
South corporation officials claimed that the average output per machine is close to 40 km per shift and said it is better that the maintenance is with the corporation. “All our machines are sweeping 35-40km per shift. In case of a break down, we try and repair it at the earliest,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
Kamaljeet Sehrawat, leader of the house at south corporation said, “The machines are the best way to address the problem of dust pollution. Now that we have procured the machines, we will look at the TERI report and take necessary measures to improve their performance.”
Rashmi Singh, secretary, NDMC, said, “We are open to new ideas to improve the efficiency of these machines. We are waiting for TERI’s report. We will incorporate their suggestions.”
Manuja said instead of buying new machines, the civic bodies should outsource the entire operations on per kilometre sweeping basis and just monitor its effective outputs. But municipal officials say this is not feasible, as the corporations have experimented with this idea initially.
In 2009, the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had outsourced the entire operation and maintenance of these machines.
“It used to cost us ₹1,000 per kilometre and it was difficult to monitor the work done by the contractor,” said a senior east corporation official aware of the issue.
Among other issues which the corporations need to fix, according to the audit , are: finding appropriate sites for dumping the dust collected by the machines; tracking effective sweeping undertaken by machines as the existing GPS can’t do it; reducing the dead mileage gone in refueling of these vehicles and setting up mechanisms for monitoring and review of the work undertaken by these machines.
“The machines are a good way to sweep the roads and check dust pollution. But a lot of work needs to be done to ensure these are optimally utilised. These issues have to be addressed for effective and efficient utilisation of these costly machines. Currently, only the east corporation weighs the quantity of dust collected,” he said.