Collecting trash from apartments: BBMP says no, err, yes

BBMP is going back and forth on whether they will collect garbage from apartments, whom they term bulk generators? If they don’t, how do apartments handle the generated trash?

Apartments are bulk generators; we won’t collect garbage from them. No, apartments are not bulk generators; we will collect waste from them. BBMP has been going back and forth on this issue for over two months now. As the December 1st deadline, for waste segregation at source is here, there is still no clarity on where the waste from the apartment complexes is going to go.

Media reports have quoted BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel saying that apartments are now excluded from the bulk generators list. However BBMP’s website has the notification dated October 1st, that has categorised apartments under bulk generators.

Nagesh, as he is commonly known, is an active RWA member from Outer Ring Road, he says that BBMP should categorically retract the current notification and put out a new one saying they will collect garbage from the apartments, like they are going to do from the rest of the city.

The official line however is less categorical and more confusing. Salma K Fahim, Additional Commissioner, Solid Waste Management Cell, says that apartments are very much on the bulk generators list and are "expected to handle their own waste." However she adds that the new contractor BVG, who is supposed to start collecting waste from December 1st, "may collect from apartments, because he will be paid by BBMP based on the quantity of waste collected," contradicting the no collection from apartments, stance.

What does the tender document say

The Solid Waste Management RFP (Request for Proposal) issued by BBMP in November mentions that the contractor has to collect waste segregated into wet and dry, from apartments too.

It says: The bulk waste generators like Apartments, hotels/ restaurants, marriage halls, social gatherings market waste etc., should be segregated into: Wet Waste and dry waste

The bulk waste generated from such source to be collected in segregated form, the wet waste shall be transport to the designated location and dry waste shall be transport to dry waste collection centres.

Legally BBMP cannot say no

According to Nagesh, National Commission on Sustainable Habitat has recommended that segregation is to be done by BBMP (not citizens/businesses/industries). This report was made by an expert team from two ministries (Environment and Forestry; Urban Development), in consultation with all State Governments. They are going to implement this in the next version of Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.

Nagesh says, BBMP is law-bound to collect garbage, as per the MSWM&H Rules. It clearly defines that BBMP is solely responsible for collection, segregation, recycling and disposal; and even for development of the required infrastructure (with prior approval from KSPCB).

Therefore, when BBMP states that the so-called "bulk generators" (a term not defined in any law or act) would have to make their own arrangements, it is a direct violation of its basic obligation," adds Nagesh.

December 1st deadline, what happened?

While, the apartment residents are fretting over the future of waste management, BBMP’s December 1st deadline, seems to be a damp squib. Salma says there might be a few packages that have been implemented but not all. Joint Commissioner S N Gagadharaiah of Mahadevapura zone says "We did not set December 1st as the day for starting off new packages. We are going to inspect the vehicles that BVG has earmarked for this purpose tomorrow (4th December) and we will see." He adds that BVG has said that they will start clearing up in about five wards of Mahadevapura between 6th and 10th December.

In the meanwhile, old contractors are continuing to pick up garbage.

Given that the law also specifies that KSPCB is responsible for monitoring compliance with the act, and Department of Urban Development holds the overall responsibility for the enforcement of the provisions of these rules, Nagesh argues that the onus of reversing this move that has riled apartment residents, lies with officials of these two departments.

KSPCB Chairman, Dr Vaman Acharya, however washes his hands off the issue. He says "We do not have a say in how BBMP manages waste in the city. I do not know why BBMP is saying apartments are bulk generators and that they will not collect waste from them."

Part II: If BBMP says no, what can apartments do?

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