While Chennai hurtles toward a more urban future, its dwellers are not lagging behind in generating garbage at an alarming rate. Back in 2013, Corporation of Chennai had formu lated a simple yet ambitious plan to segregate the city’s rubbish. However, after a long wait of three years, the civic body has dumped the plan owing to high costs.
The plan was to collect segregated garbage from households belonging to four zones -Alandur, Perungudi, Sholinganallur and Valasaravakkam.
Sources say National Cleaning Company , a Kuwait-based company , which was the lowest bidder, had reportedly quoted 2,600 per tonne for collection and transportation of garbage.”This is not an affordable rate for the corporation. Every day , these four zones generate more than 660 tonnes of garbage, which translates to more than 17 lakh per day ,” said a senior corporation official. “We may have to float another tender to privatise the operations in four zones,” he added. Ramky Enviro Ltd, responsible for clearing garbage in Adyar, Kodambakkam and Teynampet zones, charges 1,640 per tonne.
Chennai still remains the highest generator of waste in the country, but the civic body’s hands are tied to deal with this ever-growing deluge of garbage. The now-shelved waste management plan was the corporation’s attempt to put in a professional waste segregation system as informal attempts to encourage the public and rope in the civic body staff proved unsuccessful.The civic body said 65% of the garbage generated in the city can be recycled.
“We will have to distribute two garbage bins to each household, conduct awareness programmes on source segregation, collect wet and dry wastes from the doorstep and also transport them to Perungudi dumping ground. So, the rates will also be higher,” said an official of NCC.
Nisha Thota, general secretary of Shuddha International (an NGO) said fines should be imposed on those who don’t segregate waste at source. “Waste generation is greater among higher income groups, but these households usually don’t allow their maids to segregate waste as it is time consuming.” She said proper enforcement will bring about a change.
The corporation was almost successful in handling plastic waste. It had put the non-biodegradable waste into use by laying plastic bituminous roads. However, the plan did not reach fruition after shredding machines became dysfunctional.
Environmentalist Dharmesh Shah said Chennai should emulate the Pune model for waste segregation. “Nearly 2,300 ragpickers work with Pune Municipal Corporation to promote source segregation. The ragpickers are not paid by PMC, but get 40 a month from each household. They are also allowed to sell the recyclable scrap and are provided with identity cards, tricycles, gloves, coats, slippers and soap,” he said. “This is cost effective when compared to private firms.”