Residents are the most important stakeholders

Proactive strategy and a workable plan is needed to ensure a clean and hygienic environment in the city, says R S Murthy, in response to the BBMP's request for suggestions on SWM.

Waste or garbage management is the responsibility of each one of us. It starts with us- residents and shopkeepers.

All of us have to overcome the chalta hai attitude towards this very important environmental issue. The government and civic authorities also have a big role to play. Both of them have to work together as a focussed and committed team to overcome this huge issue. Unfortunately this has not happened.

Residents Welfare Associations have regularly brought or bringing to the notice of concerned civic agencies, officials and elected representatives, to move forward, on this very important environmental issue through coordinated action. Pathetic indifference has existed from agencies responsible to ensure provision of this basic civic facility in the city.

Filthy/stinking waste continues to plague the city with garbage lying all over the place affecting the health of residents. More often than not, it is a first aid and knee jerk /panic action taken in a very reactive mode. This state of affairs has not come about overnight. Successive commissioners and senior management of BBMP and other civic agencies are largely responsible for today’s state of affairs on garbage management. No serious thought seems to have gone into the streamlining the system all these years.

Suggestion to a way with landfills

One of the factors in resolving this issue is segregation of waste and its disposal in landfills around the city. The landfill issue has generated lot of heat in recent months. It is in this context, that the thought process on management of waste without landfills is a move in the right direction. This is possible, but a lot of preliminary work needs to done by all stakeholders.

Some suggestions at the functional level

Some suggestions which need to be addressed at the functional level, to move towards a solution on the lines of the Expert Committee are as follows-

  • The concerned civic agencies and authorities should launch an aggressive awareness campaign throughout Bangalore in all wards. This must be done at regular intervals. This public awareness campaign should take the form of educating the population through road shows and posters at all possible places and other audio–visual methods. The campaign should be aimed against littering, spitting and using vacant places for urinating or defecating – most importantly ensuring strict implementation of segregating waste at source.

  • Qualified and bona-fide NGOs should work in tandem with the concerned     Engineers of civic agencies in the implementation of this campaign.

  • All the educational institutions in Bangalore must be mandated by the Government to bring in awareness of this environmental issue amongst their students, in the hope, perhaps children will educate their parents and neighbours on these issues.

  • RWAs with help of civic agencies must plan and periodic conduct rallies in this regard.

  • A documentary or short film must be appropriately made and released by the civic agencies to be shown during screening of movies compulsorily in cinema theatres as daily at all shows.

  • Electronic and print media must also participate in such awareness campaigns in many languages.

Suggested methodology on management of the solution

  • Civic agencies must insist on segregation of domestic and commercial garbage into dry, wet and hospital waste as applicable and could perhaps lay down appropriate colour codes for different waste products. Defaulters must be heavily fined after due warning. This would mean close monitoring or supervision by civic agencies.

  • Introduce, in a phased manner, mechanical and hydraulic vehicle system of different capacity and size for collection of garbage in a proactive manner from residences and places of generation bi-weekly. This would obviously     depend on road space availability, density of population etc. Days of clearance in roads or areas in wards must be worked out by civic agencies and regularly inform it to residents, shopkeepers, establishment etc. This would be cost effective and efficient. Less number of employees would be needed.

  • Till such time they are introduced /become functional, existing waste transportation arrangements must be streamlined and safely move the segregated waste from each ward directly to recycling areas in their respective constituencies.

  • No separate segregation point within a ward is recommended because of hygienic and sanitation issues affecting health of residents. The transfer from smaller vehicles should be planned in a scientific manner without emptying on the ground. This is where the environmental engineers of civic agencies and NGOs in this line of business, come into play.

  • Recycling plants must be suitably/carefully located and established in each constituency under arrangement of the civic agencies and involvement of elected representatives.

  • Civic agencies must evict unlicensed meat/poultry/pork/chicken vendors and mobile food shops in the interest of health and hygiene of residents as they are a source of garbage and proliferation of pigs and stray dog menace. This must be regularly monitored by elected representatives in their wards/constituency.

  • The Health officials of civic agencies must carry out detailed inspection of their wards with all seriousness and take action to prevent onset of diseases like chikungunya, dengue, swine flu etc. Also they must plan and implement regular spraying of DDT and mosquito spray/smoke screen in the entire area.

  • Garbage-clearing contractors must be paid by civic agencies only on a certificate of clearance from the RWAs

Responsibilities of stakeholders   

  • Residents are the most important stakeholders and must take responsibility and cooperate with the civic agencies. RWAs must be the catalysts in this.

  • Civic agencies must be fully accountable and responsible for implementation of the Garbage Management policies and ensure the system works right from the top to the junior most level. Defaulters must be taken to task.

  • Elected representatives particularly corporators must be involved in the implementation of this process and be accountable to their electorate in their respective constituency/wards.

A proactive strategy and workable plan is needed to ensure a clean and hygienic environment in the city and thereby ensure a clean and healthy environment for one and all. We are all taxpayers and a proper and fool proof infrastructure is our basic right.

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