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Pune in need of a proper drainage connectivity and sewage system, says Isher Judge Ahluwalia

Ahluwalia shared her insights into the current solid waste management scenario in the city and beyond.

pune Updated: Feb 14, 2018 15:00 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,proper drainage connectivity,sewage system
Isher Judge Ahluwalia, chairperson of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations and the high-powered expert committee on urban infrastructure and services(HT PHOTO)

Isher Judge Ahluwalia, the chairperson of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and the high-powered expert committee on urban infrastructure and services, was present in the city for a session at Symbiosis School of Economics. Speaking to Hindustan Times, she shared her insights into the current solid waste management scenario in the city and beyond.

During the session, you pointed out Pune ranks first amongst Indian cities on waste management. Why?

In my study of solid waste management across the country I find Pune’s SWM as the best, but with a lot of challenges. With respect to SWM, all cities in India are struggling, and Pune has had its share of challenges but it has responded to them well. Plus, a high point for them is that there is a lot of community engagement, SWaCH which has tried to incorporate informal waste-pickers into a formal management. Hence, the cooperation between PMC and SWaCH is an admirable aspect of Pune’s waste management model. Although some mistakes have been made in the past, for instance, the problem with some 5 Biomethanation plants from a total of 25. A proper training system needs to be introduced by the civic bodies for the correct implementation of the available technological resources.

You emphasised on using un-mixed waste over segregation. Why?

Segregation is the outcome of waste which has already been mixed. Instead, households, as well as the waste-pickers, need to be sensitised not to mix waste at the very beginning. If households store waste separately, and the waste-pickers collect it separately, then a larger part of the problem is saved. Also, un-mixed waste is not really waste, it is a valuable resource which can be recycled and put to sustainable use. All this value evaporates when waste is mixed. Pune has played an important part in making its community aware of not mixing the waste. And its possible, for instance in smaller cities like Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, there actually is 100 per cent source segregation of waste. Even Mysore has 55 per cent source segregation.

Why is such success achieved in smaller cities?

It true that it is always easier to start the implementation with smaller areas. Hence, the planning, for even larger cities, need to begin on a more grass-root level. The concerned bodies need to begin work at a micro-level and then go up. The issue is that in all the policy discussions, the focus is always on large-scale macro change through a centralised medium. For instance, incineration to get rid of large amounts of waste is another outcome of that approach which has grave negative implications, and air pollution is one of it. Without proper norms on emissions and monitoring of the process, incineration is harmful.

How far have we gone in terms of open-defecation?

Open-defecation is a very important issue, however, the solution to it is not to just give people private toilets with doors. You need proper sewerage connectivity and sewage system in the area. Unless that is taken care of, any such scheme to make India open defecation free will not be successful.

First Published: Feb 14, 2018 14:59 IST