Citizens trash Bengaluru’s new garbage tender and cess

A public meeting last week exposed gaping holes in Bengaluru’s garbage collection plans. Citizens point out issues in the current process.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) proposed tender draft for solid waste management (SWM) in the city includes levying a cess for garbage collection. The implementation of the cess has thrown up more questions than answers, leaving citizens wondering about whether the BBMP was serious about the measure. 

N S Ramakanth, DC (Revenue), BBMP, confirmed to Citizen Matters that the cess will be collected from April 2011 itself, along with property tax. "There will be a new form for this, its format has been finalised already." Since advance property tax payment is accepted in April only, there is no issue of someone having already paid taxes for the next few months, he added.

In the case of apartments, cess will be collected only on the basis of the area of each person’s flat or house – common areas are not included in calculating cess.

Individuals need not declare the garbage quantity in advance

Residents will not have to give estimates of garbage quantity beforehand. This will be applicable for commercial establishments only, but even that is not clearly finalised. For commercial establishments, area and the amount of waste they produce will determine cess.

Will the cess and new contracts really impact on how citizens dispose garbage? 

This was one of the major concerns raised at a public consultation with BBMP officials on 16th March at the Students’ Christian Movement of India Hall, off Mission Road. The meeting was held to discuss the new tender draft and the cess. The tender draft lists guidelines to be followed by contractors undertaking disposal of solid waste in BBMP’s 198 wards.

Garbage tender, public consultations – From L-R Almitra Patel, Manjunath Reddy and Gangadhara Swamy. Pic: Yograj S Mudalgi

The meeting was presided over by Almitra Patel, member, Supreme Court committe for solid waste management for class 1 cities. Gangadhara Swamy, executive engineer (solid waste management), BBMP was the government representative at the meeting. Manjunath Reddy, Standing Committee member for health and Venkatesh Srinath, Environment officer, KSPCB joined in at the end of the meeting.

Kathyayini Chamaraj, managing trustee of Citizen’s Voluntary Initiative for the City (CIVIC) stressed that segregation at source should be made compulsory and fines levied on those who fail to follow. The current tender draft states that segregation is compulsory and if the generator does not segregate, the contractor will have to do it. She said that if segregation was optional, no one would follow it and it was not feasible for the contractor to collect and segregate in the time allotted for the whole process.

Sandhya Narayan of the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) in a presentation said that the tender is in contradiction with KSPCB rule that only apartments built before 2006 could hand over wet waste to be collected by BBMP. Apartments constructed post 2006 were to have a compulsory composting facility in their premises.

She also said that community feedback was the best way to evaluate the quality of service and regular meetings should be held with the ward official, public and the contractors to evaluate the service provided.

One of the attendees expressing his concern to the BBMP official at the public consultation. Pic: Yograj S Mudalgi.

Swamy responded to most of the suggestions, by saying he would pass it on the committee members for their consideration. However, he said that there was no scope for incentives to groups that are managing solid waste in their community on their own. When concerns were raised about construction debris, Swamy said that BBMP is planning to use the debris as a base for laying roads.

The displeasure of citizens with the tender was visible when an attendee questioned if the BBMP had any vision at all regarding waste management. He went on to ask why BBMP cannot aim for making waste management a revenue generating venture. He said  "If BBMP is spending 200 crores on waste management, five years down the line they should plan it in such a way that they should be able to generate revenue from it. Several groups in the city are already doing this on a small scale. Why can’t the BBMP?"

Although BBMP was under heavy criticism for its lax rules in the tender draft, the general opinion at the meeting was that unless stringent rules were put in place, Bangaloreans will not adopt healthy practices contractor-official nexus would only thrive.

Also see, associated opinion piece: The Bruhat Bengaluru garbage scam. 

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