HT Spotlight| Waste management: Mohali needs a solid way out
In a major fall, Mohali, ranked Number 1 in Punjab in the Swachh Survekshan 2017, lost its position to Bathinda this year. It’s a big jolt for a city that had started positioning itself as the big brother of Chandigarh. A major reason for this fall is poor solid waste management. The city, which generates over 100 tonnes of waste a day, dumps it in the open in Industrial Area instead of treating it.
The city scored 309 out of 1400 points in service level progress, a component largely determined by solid waste management system and other municipal level facilities- water, sewerage system. Even though garbage is collected from door to door, it is dumped at secondary points across the town from where it is collected in dumpers and deposited in the open dumping yard at Phase 8 B.
The civic body started a pilot project on waste segregation at home in Sectors 70 and 71 in 2017, but drew a cold response from the residents. Even the garbage collectors dissuaded residents from waste segregation. “People collecting garbage door to door did not want this system to be adopted. They feared that streamlining of garbage disposal would harm their jobs,” said Ranjit Singh Sandhu, a resident of Sector 62.
Residents themselves add to the problem by refusing the avail the services of garbage collectors. Waste generated from households is frequently thrown in open plots, N-choe, and on roadsides.
Mohali also lacks trained sanitation workers and an adequate number of bins.
Most of the secondary points where sector-level waste is collected are nothing but open fields with no proper boundary walls or other facilities for sweepers. These sites are the main source of food for stray cattle, dogs and other animals. Even after the garbage is lifted from here, the stink remains. The MC has provided two dozen vehicles for transportation of the municipal waste to the disposal site from a dozen secondary points across the town.
The dumping site in Phase 8B is spread over 8 acres. The MC claims its workers spread a 4-inch thick layer of soil on the dumped waste, before sprinkling herbal sanitiser. The area is also fogged every week.
Solid waste management plant
The proposal for a solid waste management plant was floated in 2011 but even after seven years, it yet to see any action. Greater Mohali Area Development Authority had allocated a sum of 33 crore for land acquisition at Samgauli village for a solid waste management plant. Around 50 acre of land was to be acquired for the plant, which was meant to benefit Mohali and 18 other civic bodies, including those of Gobindgarh, Dera Bassi, Lalru, Nangal, Banur, Morinda, Bassi Pathana, Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Anandpur Sahib and Balachaur.
Face to Face
Sandeep Hans, Mohali MC Commissioner
What is the state of cleanliness in Mohali?
We are improving on this every day. Efforts are on to sensitise people as well as staff involved in garbage collection. There are complaints of poor upkeep of secondary points, which we address from time to time. Door-to-door garbage segregation is also on the cards.
Solid waste management is the biggest concern.
We are working on clearing the land for setting up an SWM plant. Until the plant is set up, we will make people aware about the need to deal with waste at home. We are also launching a 90-day campaign to dispose of the municipal waste at different locations.
Why are there no bidders for the Samgauli plant?
They are reluctant due to feasibility concerns. We will invite bids again. The land is caught up in litigation and our focus is to resolve that issue. We have obtained both funds and permissions for this multi-crore investment.
Can a Citizen contribute?
Residents can reduce the burden on the landfill by 60%-80% by recycling waste. Jyoti Arora, a waste management expert, says we can drastically reduce the load of garbage on the MC by composting the kitchen waste and by recycling glass , plastic and other electrical fittings.
As per the MC data, more than 50% of the waste generated is kitchen waste, which can be composted at home. Arora says around 20% of the waste can also be recycled. “Recycling the waste can provide employment to ragpickers besides reducing the burden on landfills. Mostly construction waste, glass including tubes lights, electric bulbs is thrown in the garbage which is risky for the soil as well as the person involved in waste collection.” Arora said a few steps taken by every citizen at home can go a long way in solving the problem of waste management.
What the resident say
“They don’t have a vision. Garbage has the potential of making money. Recycling of garbage solves many problems. It gives employment, makes use of resources, and results in cleanliness,” says Manoj Aggarwal, president sector 68 resident welfare association
“The waste is collected daily but the problem persists. The issue can be resolved only if strict penalty is imposed for littering. Sanitation workers who don’t do their work well should also be penalised,” says Manoj Kumar, a restaurant Worker.
“The MC cannot do everything. We have to contribute. Even through garbage is picked from door to door, some people throw it in the open. We have to realise our responsibility,” says Harjinder Singh, a Phase 5 resident.