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Mumbai: 6,400 tonnes of solid waste, 40 pc sewage go untreated

Taxpayers in Mumbai have spent over Rs. 13,000 crore towards cleanliness over the past decade. But the city has a lowly 140th rank to show for this massive spending. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had allocated Rs. 8,839.5 crore for solid waste management in the last five years, of which Rs. 683.56 crore was used for development work and at least over Rs. 5,000 crore for sewage disposal. Despite this, the city ranked 140th in the country on the Swachh Bharat survey of clean cities. In the year-long survey, researchers studied 476 first-tier cities with two parameters — how 'minimal'” open defecation was in the city, and how robust the municipalities were with the solid waste management system.

Swachh Bharat Mission is the flagship sanitation programme of the NDA government, which aims to bridge gaps between sewerage and solid waste management and construct several million toilets in the urban centres. In Mumbai, more than 40 per cent of the city is not connected to sewer lines even now. Navi Mumbai, Mumbai’s satellite city, though, saw itself ranked third in the survey. Of the 9,400 tonnes of municipal solid waste generated in Mumbai each day, the Deonar dumping ground, which has been staring at closure since 2011, receives 3,500 tonnes and Mulund dumping ground 2,200 tonnes. Neither of these dumping grounds currently in use have a waste processing unit, and mostly unsegregated and untreated garbage is simply dumped there, and the garbage catching fire due to the gases formed are common. The recently-opened Kanjurmarg dumping ground now processes 3,000 tonnes of waste. It is the city’s only scientific landfill site, where the garbage is processed and methane gas is generated.

According to officials from the solid waste management department, however, the methane gas generation will still take some more months to reach a quantum, when electricity can be generated from it. The civic body has in its 2015-16 budget proposed to acquire 126 hectares at Taloja outside Mumbai to ease the burden on existing dumping grounds, but the BMC continues to wait for the land to be transferred by the state. To increase awareness on waste management alone, the civic body has made a provision of Rs. 15 crore in the 2015-16 budget. Still, waste segregation at source in the city is at a dismal 10-12 per cent. Despite another solid waste management scheme — clean-up marshals — failing to make a visible impact in the city, the civic body is in the process of re-introducing these ‘marshals’ who can fine people for spitting and littering in public.

In the country’s richest municipal corporation, human waste from 36,883 households of the total 26,65,479 are disposed into open drains, according to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Survey of Manual Scavengers in Statutory Towns. In comparison, Raigad district that includes Navi Mumbai has 5,96,514 households, of which human waste from 2,704 goes into open drains. Further, the BMC has made a provision of Rs 5.25 crore for pay-and-use toilets in the city this year, but women in Mumbai’s slums still defecate in the open. As many as 85 per cent of those surveyed recently said they found community toilets unsafe at night. According to the survey, 12.5 per cent of the women in Mumbai’s slums defecate in the open at night. The study titled ‘Housing, water and sanitation survey of slums in Mumbai 2015’, conducted by the International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), found that women preferred to take this risk to walking 58 m, the average distance of the community toilet from their homes. The new plan A City Sanitation Plan is being formulated by the All India Institute of Local Self-Government in Andheri. According to Prakash Patil, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, the plan for the first ward should be ready in three months. Former municipal commissioner Jairaj Pathak said strong decision on closure of dumping grounds, bringing private players into waste collection would go a long way in making the city cleaner. “Deonar and Mulund dumping grounds are oversaturated and they need to be scientifically closed. More garbage should be treated scientifically at Kanjurmarg. In the BMC, solid waste management projects get relegated in the background over other pressing issues. We often forget that no matter how beautiful our drawing rooms are, if our toilets are unclean, there is no point. Mumbai wouldn’t even have come in the top 10 because of its sheer size. Part of Navi Mumbai’s waste collection and management is privatised. In BMC, the safai workers are the highest paid in the country, but often there is dereliction of work or outsourcing. If we privatise to some extent, work can be ensured,” he said.

Source: The Indian Express

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