Micro measures, macro results
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Micro measures, macro results

To manage Mumbai’s waste successfully, BMC must encourage people to take steps at the level of housing societies, ALMs, reports Nikhil M Ghanekar.

mumbai Updated: Mar 21, 2013 01:06 IST
Nikhil M Ghanekar
Nikhil M Ghanekar
Hindustan Times

The civic body’s latest circular lists an ambitious plan to collect 100% of the city’s waste on a door-to-door basis and segregate it.

Housing societies have been asked to spruce up their waste management plans, or face a fine of up to Rs50,000.

While this sounds promising, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) enthusiastic circular, which has its origins in the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2000, acitivist said it has failed in two crucial ways: It does not introduce any incentives in the new property tax regime for housing societies to carry out smarter waste management, and it fails to identify land in each ward where garbage can be micro-managed.

Citizen activists from Advanced Locality Managements (ALM) said given that the BMC manages to segregate only 15 per cent of its daily garbage, the penalty levied is both pre-mature and uncalled for.

“The circular shows positive intent, but Rs.50,000 is too high. Citizens and housing societies may approach corporators to intervene when slapped with fines, which might complicate matters again,” said GR Vora, member, F-north ward citizens’ federation.

“The BMC should instead utilise the services of ALMs and co-ordinate better to manage waste at local levels. If ragpickers are organised better, the BMC will benefit economically and socially.”

Incentivisation, according to some activists, may prove to be a catalyst. “In Pune, the municipal body provides tax exemptions to housing societies and this has worked. The BMC should try it in Mumbai, at least for a while,” said Jyoti Mhapsekar, president, Stree Mukti Sanghtana.

BMC officials said that while it has set segregation targets for 2014, concerned officers at the ward level will draw up plans to micro-manage the garbage generated in that ward as part of the decentralised waste management.

Ward-level officers say they have other priorities such as water supply and sanitation, and garbage segregation and management will eventually be addressed.

“We are waiting for reports from all ward-level officers, who have been asked to identify plots of land where decentralised waste management can happen,” said Prakash Patil, deputy municipal commissioner (solid waste management).

“Some ALM’s are already doing this and we look forward to partner with many others, but rigorous implementation of garbage segregation in housing societies is the first thing we have to ensure for better waste management,”

Some activists such as environmentalist Rishi Agarwal believe the solutions are merely meant to gloss over the persistent discrepancies.

“The discussion now needs to change from BMC’s failures to how citizens can make it enforce its responsibilities. These solutions are not new,” said Agarwal.

First Published: Mar 21, 2013 01:04 IST