HC to review ward committees’ role in managing waste

Effective waste management is the responsibility of ward committees. But are ward committee meetings happening in Bengaluru? High Court decides to look into it.

As an immediate remedy for daily wet waste generated in Bengaluru, Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Department of Karnataka (UDD) D Satya Murty submitted to the High Court of Karnataka (HC) on Thursday, June 26, 2014, that portable processing units with the capacity of 50 tonnes will soon be installed in 15 to 20 wards.

However, the bench comprising Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice N Kumar observed that processing units in 15 to 20 wards will not be sufficient when Bangalore has 198 wards.

Murty submitted to the court that the government is keen on solving the garbage problem and is planning to introduce short term, mid term and long term projects simultaneously. He said that, within six months the other bigger projects like biomethanisation plants will soon be installed, which will replace the need for these smaller portable units. The small units later can be shifted to other places wherever needed, he reported to the bench.

Chief secretary shows concern over biomining

Acknowledging the 10-year-old, 25 lakh tonnes of unsegregated garbage lying on the Mandur land, Murty sought time to know which would be the best technology to treat this historical waste.

He said that such a huge amount of unsegregated waste can only be done away by way of incineration, but the law has banned the use of incineration technology for disposing the municipal solid waste.

Referring to the biomining technology, suggested by the Solid Waste Management Expert Committee in the previous two hearings, he said, “There are not many papers available to prove that biomining is the right technology.” The papers available on biomining has experimented on 50 hectares to 100 hectares of land, while Mandur has 150 hectares of land under garbage.

He reported to the court the two reasons for the garbage problem — lack of technology available in the country, and unsegregated waste. He sought time to decide on which technology is best-suited for the present Mandur problem.

Justice B V Nagarathna, as a solution to non-segregation of waste, suggested the UDD Chief Secretary Murty to appoint separate contractors for collecting dry, wet and the biomedical waste. She said that there should be designated pourakarmikas to collect each type of waste to ensure segregation not only happens at source but remains as it is till the end.

Only three applications for biomining

Following the orders passed on June 23rd by the bench, BBMP Commissioner Lakshminarayan had called for tenders for biomining. The Commissioner submitted to the court that only three firms have stepped forward.

Petitioner’s advocate reported to the court that one among the listed name has no experience in biomining while one has. He reported to the court that BBMP advertised the biomining tender only in two leading papers.  

On the request of advocate Kumar, the court directed BBMP to advertise the biomining tender advertisement across the nation in the national papers in order to attract the best talent.

Medical officers to bulk generators

HC observed that 1000 tonnes of waste comes from bulk generators like hotels, clubs, apartments and offices. HC had already issued order in the past for bulk generators to segregate and treat their own waste on their premises. Court had fixed a maximum penalty of Rs. 5000 for non-compliance of the rule.

Accordingly the bench directed the medical officers to inspect whether the bulk generators are following the norms or not, and fine them accordingly.

Court asks for minutes of the Ward Committee meetings

Petitioner’s advocate Ajesh Kumar brought to the notice of the court that as per section 13 sub section (I) of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976, Ward Committee rules 2013, Ward Committee is responsible for looking after managing the waste and sanitation in their ward, along with other maintenance work, while Section 13 H of the act mandates the committee to meet once a month.

The Ward Committee is chaired by the councillor and has ten members nominated by the councillor. The Ward Committee Rules 2013 gives veto power to the chairman or the councillor to override decisions taken by the committee, if he feels it is necessary. He pointed to the court that it is the responsibility of the committee to look after ward’s health and sanitation issues.

He told the court that it is necessary to see whether these ward committees are functioning and have met at least once in a month as per the rules. He sought to know what action the committees have taken in the past to manage their waste. When did the chairman use their veto power and what problems were faced.

He stated that to ensure proper waste management, it is necessary to have public participation. Once the grassroot problems are understood it will become easy to give solution to the garbage problems, he said.

Accordingly High Court directed the BBMP to submit affidavits of the minutes of the meetings conducted by the Ward Committees. The court also asked BBMP to upload the list of the ward committees on their website.

Submit records on Dry Waste Collection Centres

Court directed BBMP to submit records on the number of Dry Waste Collection Centres (DWCC) that are managed by BBMP, the quantum of waste collected by these centres, the revenue generated, the expenditure incurred on maintaining the DWCC and the number of employees appointed by the BBMP at DWCC.

Government of Karnataka has made a new appointment of an IAS officer for handling the BBMP’s Solid Waste management Cell. Darpan Jain will be the new Additional Commissioner for BBMP Solid Waste Management Cell. HC gave two-week’s time to the officer to learn about the entire garbage issue and come prepared on the next hearing on 17th July 2014.

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