Will Mumbai civic body’s order on composting go to waste?
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had said in an order in July that it will not collect wet waste from over 5,000 bulk generators from October 2.
With the deadline being today, the big question is - are citizens and housing societies ready to segregate and compost their waste?
Concerns are growing among housing societies that produce over 100kg of waste daily or have an area above 20,000 square meters, as they have been tasked to handle their waste themselves.
The 5,000 units that include restaurants, gymkhanas, colleges, hotels and some housing societies have to mandatorily not only segregate but also compost their waste.
This means that the civic body trucks will only pick up dry waste from Monday.
Against the 5,000 notices sent to such waste generators, at present, there are only 375 composting units functional in the city.
This itself indicates that the garbage deadline is likely to stay on paper, with most housing societies still unsure about how to compost waste.
Around, 7,800 metric tonnes of garbage is generated every day in the city, of which around 3,000 metric tonnes is treated scientifically at the Kanjurmarg dumping ground.
With the new order, the BMC hopes to reduce the burden on the three dumping grounds in the city, which have reached saturation.
If the new order is successfully implemented, the civic body has claimed that the untreated waste going to the dumping grounds will be reduced by nearly 1,800 metric tonnes per day.
Following the order, many societies began marathon meetings to build consensus on the composting process to be selected and the investment amount. Many have also demanded that BMC should not only help with suggestions on different types of composting processes, but also provide funds for the composting units.
While some societies are ready to spend extra, others are facing space constraints.
Elsie Gabriel, founder of Young Environmentalists Programme Trust, said, “The most challenging part was to change the mindset and to convince people to have a composting plant in their compound. Many raised concerns about hygiene and its maintenance.”
Gabriel added that after big housing societies, the civic body also needs to work out a plan for better waste management in slums.
However, Raj Kumar Sharma, from the Chembur advanced locality management, who had also filed a public interest litigation to enforce waste processing at Deonar, and is part of the Bombay high court monitoring committee that regulates dumping activities at the site, said, “Segregation is compulsory by law but not composting. Through this, BMC is shifting its responsibility on to the people.”
He added “There are many practical problems, from space constraints, high cost of investment and threat of the expensive composting machinery getting stolen, among others. As the order has been forced upon us, we are trying to search for a common area where many societies together can build one composting unit.”