Illegal garbage disposal: Bengaluru’s SWM Marshals to go digital in levying fines

IMPLEMENTING SWM BYE-LAWS

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BBMP is going to issue these handheld devices to SWM Marshals. Pic: BBMP

Last month, BBMP started deploying SWM (Solid Waste Management) Marshals to check littering, garbage dumping etc and penalise offenders under the new SWM Bye-laws. The Marshals booked 1129 cases in September, issuing steep penalties under the new bye-laws. This, along with 774 cases booked for the plastic ban, earned BBMP over Rs 14 lakh in fines that month.

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Now, BBMP is planning to provide handheld devices to the Marshals, to enable them to issue digitally-printed challans to offenders on the spot.

Speaking to Citizen Matters, D Randeep, Special Commissioner (SWM) at BBMP, said that predefined fines for each offence would be coded in the device, so that there is clarity on the part of both the challan issuer and receiver.

The device allows Marshals to record the name of the offender, and to also click photos of the offence being committed. BBMP’s decision comes close on the heels of a marshal Basavaraja M of ward number 45 (Malleswaram) getting assaulted when he advised a person against throwing garbage. There have been 4-5 cases of arguments too, says Randeep.

With the new device, such instances are expected to reduce. “Data from the device will be compiled at our central database. Even agencies handling waste management can be booked by Marshals for deviating from bulk waste collection or for unscientific disposal,” Randeep said. The centralised database is expected to improve enforcement, especially since the SWM bye-laws prescribe higher penalties for repeat offenders.

On being fined, the offenders will instantly receive receipts; they can pay directly by cash, or by cheque or digital transaction later. If the Marshals are collecting fine by cash, they have to deposit it into BBMP’s dedicated SWM account.

As per the SWM Rules 2016 and SWM Bye-laws 2019, offences such as improper dry waste segregation, littering, spitting, and urinating in public spaces are fined Rs 500. Penalty of Rs 1000 is levied for subsequent offences.

Randeep added that Rs 2500 is charged for poor segregation of garden waste, and Rs 5000 if the offence is repeated. Dumping of construction debris can be fined Rs 5000 the first time, and Rs 25,000 subsequently.

At any point, about 500 metric tonne of waste lie dumped in the city, says Randeep. Enforcement by Marshals is expected to reduce this.

Marshals already trained to handle device

Though the devices were to be issued this Monday, this has been delayed as banks are yet to synchronise the device to BBMP’s escrow SWM account.

However, the Marshals have already been trained to handle the device, says Chief Marshal (Retd Colonel) Rajbir Singh. Singh coordinates on-the-ground operations with ward Marshals, and facilitates communication between them and BBMP.

Who are SWM Marshals?

BBMP sources Marshals from the Karnataka Ex-Serviceman Welfare Society, an organisation that helps ex-servicemen transition to new careers. Under SWM bye-laws, the Marshals are referred to as ‘Nuisance Detectors’.

SWM Marshals are paid a salary, and are empowered to:

  • Levy spot fines
  • Recommend to BBMP to cancel the trade licence of commercial establishments that are repeat offenders
  • Prohibit littering, and restrain those who dump indiscriminately. They can ask the offender to take back the garbage, and can also seize the vehicle used to dump garbage illegally. If the offender does not heed their warning, the Marshal can solicit the help of the police to detain the offender.

Residents can also seek the help of Marshals to monitor garbage dumping and black spots.

Though Marshals are deployed formally only now, BBMP had passed a resolution way back in 2017 to commission them. Till last month they had been deployed on pilot basis to protect Indira canteens and accompany health officials on rounds.

Singh said that the new devices would bring transparency to the Marshal beat system.

“In the traditional system of challan issue, it is impossible to ascertain the exact date, location, time and other particulars of the offence. In the digital format, these details require no manual entry, they appear by default. If the offenders are depositing the fine by cheque to the SWM account, they even have to mention their ‘ticket number’. So there is transparency and accountability from end-to-end,” Singh said.

Currently Marshals are present in 187 wards. Around mid-October, vacancies in the remaining 11 wards would be filled, Randeep said. But based on BBMP’s assessment, in the next phase, Marshals would be mobilised depending on which wards have more area, black spots or higher frequency of garbage dumping, and where more handholding is required, he added.

“Based on complaints we get at our control room, we have even dispatched Marshals to attend to complaints such as ‘use of banned plastic bags’,” Randeep said.

He cautioned that though Marshals were sourced from the Karnataka Ex-Serviceman Welfare Society, anyone obstructing them from doing their job would be booked under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) since they are enforcing SWM laws.

“An FIR has already been booked against one person for assaulting Marshal Basavaraja. We are pursuing each case seriously, based on the gravity of the offence, so that our staff are protected and are not demoralised,” Randeep said.


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About Harsha Raj Gatty 5 Articles
Harsha Raj Gatty is a former State correspondent with The Indian Express. He has been Guest-faculty at Nitte Institute of Mass Communication (NICO), and is the co-founder of StoryInfinity.

2 Comments

  1. Any sane urban municipal government will realise that an urban setting has different SWM requirements than a rural one. BBMP is not the only MG body that has failed to provide avenues for SW disposal. Instead, it levies fines for its own failures on citizens. A city like Bangalore generates waste like electronics, obsolete plumbing fixtures, used solvents, decrepit furniture, etc., that MGs in civilized countries provide avenues for disposal. The failure to provide these avenues is the failure of the BBMP, and levying fines is a crass abandonment of the responsibilities of a civic authority. Anything that does not address this fundamental issue is simply window-dressing of incompetency at the most basic level.

  2. The City should be kept clean and people should act responsibly. Segregation of waste is not a problem for the residents. Gathering and transporting the segregated waste daily is the responsibility of BBMP. The Municipal Corporation should arrange for gathering the segregated waste on daily basis. This should be entrusted to well trained labour under proper supervision. In our area the three wheel vehicle is highly inadequate for the job. It is in a dilapidated condition. The labour engaged have no uniforms or protective gloves to wear. I wish the Corporator and Health Officials of BBMP visit the area on regular basis and get the feedback of the residents.
    This City to which I had come 53 years ago to settledown was known as Garden City. I wish we should retain its glory.

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