Will junkets and looting public money solve garbage problem?

Today at 6.30pm Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike will interact with Spain on best practices for managing waste. I am not sure which adage passed my mind when I read the latest news report on BBMP and our garbage mess. “Grasping at straws” for seeking help from sister city San Francisco or “Making hay when sun shines” for possibly sending officials to Dubai to study waste management.

Wasted BBMP trips on managing waste

  • When Sharadamma was the mayor, a BBMP team led by her had visited Pune.

  • In 2012, a team led by then-deputy S Harish went to Israel to study solid waste management there.

  • Last year a team led by Bangalore district incharge minister Ramalinga Reddy and the Mayor visited Salem in a bus, along with media professionals. The fallout was miserable, as even after the land was allocated, the plant could not start working in time. The major trouble in starting the work seemed to be that the firm, Hanjer Biotech Private Limited was unable to clear the accumulated waste.

As garbage piles up just before the monsoons, our local body representatives are looking at solutions from cities in the top 10 in waste management, no less!! Bottom line, our local body elected representatives and officials just don’t get it.

Solid waste management is city-specific, it has to have the public and official machinery functioning together all the time and you cannot borrow a solution as it is from another city, unless your intent lies in tours and tenders, not in solving the problem.

When there are clear directives by the Supreme Court on implementing the Solid Waste (management and handling) Rules 2000 and when our city has no dearth of experts on the issue, why is the BBMP looking across the seas for a solution? Bangalore even has a court-mandate for segregation at source, which is not being enforced by the BBMP due to various reasons which can’t even be imagined!

Just reading up on available information and figuring out whether it is possible to implement the same in our city can save a video conference call, the perks and allowances for the special meeting and thereby the taxpayer’s money.

The San Francisco Environment Department clearly states the requirements from waste generators according to the Recycling and Composting Ordinance. The city goal is to be Zero Waste Generator by 2020. Here are some facts.

  • San Francisco is a smaller city, has a population of 8.3 lakh (in comparison to the 84 lakh within the BBMP limits)

  • Policies here were planned and implemented incrementally across various stakeholders. Incentives and penalties were a part of the plan.

  • Emphasis on prevention of waste is as important as recycling in San Francisco.

  • Residents must have colour-coded containers for their recyclable, compostable and rejects / landfill waste

  • Residents pay a landfill service rate that can be lowered if the size of the container is smaller.

  • Residents are fined for non-compliance.

  • Private service providers in charge of collection, transfer, sorting, recovery, processing and marketing

  • Private service provider clearly mentions process to the residents

San Francisco planned their waste management based on the waste characterisation study done in 2006. BBMP signed MoUs with San Francisco city council including one on sharing knowledge on integrated waste management, with the Mayor mentioning even then of “importing technologies.”

There was a video conference in mid-2011, which discussed various measures to manage solid waste better. However, none of the learnings have been taken seriously, and the city still grapples with waste-management issues.

As the administration wastes time on taking firm steps, waste continues to get generated in the city with no place to go and the mounds of accumulated garbage at Mandur remain unattended to.

About Josephine Joseph 46 Articles
Josephine Joseph researches and writes on urban governance, civic and environmental issues in Bangalore City, from a 'citizen' point of view.

1 Comment

  1. There is no need for any junket to Dubai or Sanfrancisco. All authoritoies must watch this programme on ‘Satyamev Jayate’at the following link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1wL4Ywt9TU
    & invite the expert to solve the garbage problem without spending a fortune.
    I Request Citizen Matter Editor to kindly forward the link to BBMP Commissioner for immediate action please.

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