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  Home >> Cleanliness >>  Meeting of the Cleanliness Group


Meeting of the Cleanliness Group

On October 17, 2005

Points for discussion prepared by  
Sudheendra Kulkarni

Coordinator – Cleanliness Group


Dear Friends,  

Shri Vinay Somani has already sent you the broad agenda for the meeting on the 17th. In this communication, I am presenting specific points for discussion under each section in the hope that our discussion would be focused and yield certain concrete action points that we could recommend to the BMC. These points have been culled out of the deliberations in our previous meeting on cleanliness (October 5) and also the numerous useful posts on the Karmayog website.  

I have indicated suggested Action Points. Needless to say, participants will be free to provide fresh perspectives and make their own suggestions to modify/enrich/add to the Action Points that I have indicated. Based on our discussion on the 17th, the NGO Council will submit its recommended Plan of Action to the BMC. In our subsequent meeting/s with BMC officials, we should try to secure BMC’s firm commitment to implement these recommendations.  

Another introductory point. I feel that the cleanliness campaign should be given a catchy name capable of rallying all the stakeholders. How about calling it MISSION - MUMBAI CHAKACHAK?  

Mission Goals

I believe that the BMC must lose no further time in launching, in mission mode, a comprehensive cleanliness drive with three mission objectives:  

I.                   How to make Mumbai zero-garbage. (Zero-garbage here is understood as “No visible waste -- garbage or litter of any kind -- in any public place in the city.)  

II.                How to maximize the efficiency of the city’s Solid Waste Management through:  

> a substantial reduction in the total daily tonnage of waste going to the present landfills; (I strongly feel that the NGO Council should urge the BMC to set a target of reducing, within the next three years, the overall waste being dumped at the city’s three overflowing landfills from the present 8000 tons a day to 6000 tons a day.)  

> a substantial increase in decentralized biodegradation of wet waste;  

> a substantial increase in (preferably total) recycling of dry waste;  

> a separate and sound system of management of inert waste (mainly construction waste), resulting in its total recycling;  

> a sound system for the safe management of medical waste. 

And to achieve the above goals,  

III. How to forge an effective partnership between the BMC, other governmental agencies, citizens, civil society organizations and businesses.  (In order to make this partnership a reality, the NGO Council should urge the BMC to take the lead in launching a massive campaign built around the theme of ‘Mumbai Chakachak’ with a strong focus on  Three R’s: Reduction, Reuse and Recycling of Waste.)  

* * * * *  

The pre-requisite for achieving the above objectives is segregation of waste at source, and also its collection, transportation and processing / disposal in a segregated form – as is indeed mandated by the Supreme Court and also by the Union Government’s MSW Rules. Therefore, the NGO Council should insist that the BMC announce a cut-off date for commencement of segregation of waste at source.  

Points to be discussed under management of wet waste  

Biodegrdation of wet waste (in-situ or in the neighbourhood) to be made mandatory for –  

> Housing cooperative societies;

> Hotels, restaurants, clubs, hospitals, etc;

> Campuses of institutes like IIT, BARC, TISS, Mumbai University , etc.

> Vegetable, fruit, fish and meat markets.  

We should discuss each of these separately and come up with specific recommendations for BMC. Here are my suggestions.  

Cooperative housing societies, colonies, etc.  

BMC should send a circular to all cooperative housing societies and colonies (such as the CGS colony at Antop Hill or the many colonies of RBI officers, etc) that they must make arrangements for in-situ bio-degradation of their wet waste before a certain deadline. BMC should make it clear that it shall not lift their wet waste after the deadline.  

Points to discuss:  

  • How should the BMC’s support those housing societies that do not have place for in-situ bio-degradation of their wet waste? 
  • What monitory/other incentives can the BMC give to those (ALMs, NGOs, coop societies, etc.) who do this successfully? 
  • What incentives can be given to NGOs/private companies that arrange for marketing of the manure produced through this process? (This point is important because many composting initiatives have floundered on account of poor or uneconomical marketing of the end product.) 
  • How to build capacity of NGOs/ALMs engaged in biodegradation of wet waste and how to arrange training of people in cooperative housing societies, etc? 
  • No new proposal for construction of a housing or commercial structure should be cleared if it does not have provision for an in-situ Waste Processing Station. 

BMC Action Points 2-6, along with other related points, may be incorporated into a Policy for Solid Waste Management in Cooperative Housing Societies.

Hotels, restaurants, clubs, hospitals, etc;  

BMC should come out with a Policy for Solid Waste Management in Hotels, restaurants, clubs, etc, with compulsory bio-degradation of their wet waste after a specified deadline.  

Some of the elements of this policy could be:  

  • In-situ biodegradation should be mandatory wherever space is available. 
  • Those that do not have space for doing so may be given common plots, for a fee, by BMC/state government.
  • BMC/state government should create decentralized common biodegradation facilities (to be run by NGOs, cooperatives or private entrepreneurs) such as the one in the premises of the Shatabdi Hospital in Chembur set up through a joint venture between the BMC, BARC and Stree Mukti Sangathana. Suitable incentives should be provided to these facilities since they cannot run entirely on profit-principle. Can they levy a fee on providers of waste? 

   Are there enough NGOs to seize this opportunity? Do they have sufficient technical, financial and managerial resources?  

Campuses of institutes like IIT, BARC, TISS, Mumbai University , etc.  

BMC should set a deadline for these institutes to set up wet-waste biodegradation facilities in their own campuses. BARC has already established a composting and bio-methanation plant on its campus.  

Vegetable, fruit, fish and meat markets  

BMC should ban, after a deadline, vendors in vegetable/fruit/fish/meat markets from throwing their waste in common garbage dumps.  

Markets should be directed to install in-situ waste shredder/compactor and send the compacted waste to decentralised common biodegradation facilities.  

Here are two related points in this section:

Deonar Abattoir  

The Municipal Abattoir at Deonar reportedly sends 25 tons of animal waste to the landfill each day. The Abattoir occupies a huge plot of land and hence can easily handle in-situ biodegradation of its animal waste. Since the quantity is large enough, it can also generate sufficient electricity to meet all its needs.  

‘Waste-to-Energy’ and other ‘Waste-to-Value’ projects  

BMC should appoint a professional group (with the participation of NGOs with domain knowledge) to evaluate all the ‘Waste-to-Energy’ and Waste-to-Value projects it has undertaken so far. What have been its successes and failures? What have been the hurdles? How can MERC and MNES assist the BMC in achieving better results in future projects? Such a review would help better designing of future projects.  

Points to be discussed under management of dry waste  


  • BMC should prepare a comprehensive policy for integrating waste-pickers (mostly women) into its system of management of dry waste. Organisations like the Stree Mukti Sangathana, FORCE, ROOTs, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (Pune) and others that are active in organizing waste-pickers should be actively involved in preparing the policy. 

Some of the elements of this policy could be:  

> Compulsory registration of all waste-pickers and provision of identity cards to them.  

> Empowering waste-pickers to collect segregated dry waste from house-to-house or from common collection points (for a fee) in slums, coop housing societies, etc.  

> Providing common garbage sheds in neighbourhoods where waste-pickers can sort and process the dry-waste. (This is necessary since it will enable waste-pickers to realize higher value for the waste they sell to retailers.)  

> BMC, in collaboration with insurance companies and NGOs, should facilitate provision of social security schemes (covering healthcare, education, accident, etc) for all waste-pickers.  

>  Securing funds from central and state government schemes for poverty alleviation and employment generation, such as the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana, for training, infrastructure provision (such as building waste-pickers’ own garbage sheds), formation of micro-enterprises, etc. for the benefit of waste-pickers.  

> Encouraging house-keeping companies that get house-keeping contracts in coop housing societies and office complexes to employ registered waste-pickers.  

Retail and wholesale trade in dry waste  

The current state of the business of purchase and marketing of recyclable dry waste is that it is unorganized, unregistered, fragmented and often a source of environmental pollution itself. It should be transformed into a properly organised business so that it can be scaled up and facilitated to achieve better value-addition through fresh institutional investments, technological inputs and managerial expertise. For this purpose:  

  • All retail and wholesale traders in dry-waste should be registered. 
  • BMC should ban retail and wholesale dry-waste merchants from carrying out their activities (like sorting, processing, bundling) on pavements and roads (which is a common sight on the city’s streets). 
  • BMC/State government should earmark a separate place in the city for wholesale trade in dry waste. This will enable traders in places like Dharavi to relocate themselves and also expand their operations. 

Recycling industry  

  • The recycling industry in and around the city should be suitably incentivised, upgraded  and supported to scale-up and manufacture a wide range of useful and higher-value products and supported with common effluent disposal plants for clusters.

Points to be discussed under management of inert (construction) waste  

A major portion of the inert garbage is construction waste, which piles up as debris in public places. Unscrupulous building contractors are known to routinely dump construction waste in storm water drains or at playgrounds, mangrove sites, etc. Therefore, BMC should come out with a clear and effective policy for the management of construction waste.

Some of the elements of this policy could be:  

  • Incentivise private collectors and transporters of construction waste, with the strict proviso that they must take it to recyclable units at specified locations. 
  • Incentivise private businesses to invest in plants that recycle construction waste into reusable construction material. 
  • Take punitive action against construction companies, coop housing societies, office complexes and even road contractors that dump debris at public places. 

Points to be discussed under management of market/office waste

BMC should come out with a Policy for Management of Market Waste in consultation with market associations and NGOs.

Some of the elements of this policy could be:  

  • Applying the principle of Extended Producers’ / Sellers’ Responsibility, BMC should make it mandatory for all shopkeepers and market associations to keep their premises / environs clean. Non-compliance should attract penalties. 
  • Waste-pickers’ cooperatives, kabadiwalas and recycling businesses should be encouraged to streamline collection, sorting and transportation of market waste so that minimal amounts of it have to be lifted by BMC. 
  • Computer and other kind of office waste has high recycle value. Suitable support should be provided to businesses that handle this kind of waste. Many cities in the world have properly organised businesses (with necessary information on the Internet) that deal in different kinds of recyclable waste. 

Points to be discussed under management of garbage dumps  

        BMC, where necessary in collaboration with agencies like MMRDA and MSRDC, should put in place a system for making all the roads in Mumbai zero-garbage. Priority should be given to major roads like western and eastern express highways. All garbage dumps on these roads should be removed immediately. Adequate number of closed bins should be installed in nearby slums. Local CBO should be paid to employ environment protection guards with powers to collect fines from offenders.  

        BMC should complete, in a timebound manner, its ongoing programme for the purchase and installation of adequate number of public garbage collection bins and litter bins of international standards. Open-air bins currently in use must be taken out of operation immediately.  

        BMC should identify major points of garbage generation in each ward and  introduce manning of garbage collection centres at these points so that people discontinue the habit of throwing garbage around the bin. Wherever CBOs themselves should be incentivised for manning garbage collection centres.

        BMC should introduce house-to-house/door-step collection of segregated waste in slums and chawls with the involvement of waste-pickers cooperatives and CBOs. (This has worked well in Pune where slumdwellers pay Rs. 10 per day per family to waste-pickers to do house-to-house collection.) This helps in eliminating dirt at garbage bins.  

Points to be discussed under inter-agency coordination  

Lack of coordination among the BMC and other state/central government agencies such as MMRDA, MHADA, Railways, Port Trust, etc. is a major reason for the poor standards of cleanliness and sanitation in Mumbai. Therefore, the NGO Council should urge the state government to constitute an Inter-Agency Task Force, to be placed under the command of the BMC, for coordination and execution of all cleanliness- and sanitation-related activities. The Task Force should also have effective representation from civil society stakeholders.  

Other important points for discussion  

Advance Locality Management (ALM) Groups  

In all our meetings so far, participants have expressed their dissatisfaction over the BMC’s lack of sustained support to the ALM movement. The sharp decline in the number of ALMs in the city has been highlighted. Several ALMs have studied this problem and have specific suggestions to make for revival of this movement. They should do so at the 17th meeting.  

Dattak Vasti Yojana  

Dattak Vasti Yojana (Slum Adoption Scheme) is an important scheme of the BMC for solid waste management in slums. So far we have not had much discussion on this. If there are NGOs/CBOs with grassroots experience, they could enlighten us on how to make it more effective and also how to increase its coverage to all the slums in Mumbai.  

Overhauling the system of Nuisance Detectors  

It is obvious to one and all that the prevailing system of Nuisance Detectors (manned entirely by BMC staff) is totally flawed both in its design and execution. It can work only with the active participation of representatives of citizens’ groups who are empowered to detect, warn and fine offenders. The NGO Council should urge the BMC to take necessary steps in this direction, after a broadbased public debate.

Logistics and Transportation aspect of SWM  

This issue is important because the BMC incurs a huge cost in transportation of waste to its landfills. Several activists familiar with the problems in SWM in Mumbai refer to the “entrenched lobbies of transport contractors”. We also have some colleagues who feel that a more efficient and transparent system can be created with the participation of these stakeholders. This issue needs to be discussed on the basis of specific data and specific suggestions for improvement.  

Issues concerning the Conservancy Staff of the BMC  

The 35,000-strong conservancy staff of the BMC is an important stakeholder in the system of Solid Waste Management in Mumbai. How is their work organised today? How can it be better designed? How can the BMC personnel be motivated / trained / empowered to contribute optimally to the Mission ’s success? What are the roadblocks? One thing is certain: the Conservancy Staff of the BMC cannot be ignored. This issue too deserves to be discussed seriously before we can make any specific recommendations.  

Pilot Projects to showcase the cleanliness campaign  

The NGO Council should urge the BMC to take up a few pilot projects to showcase the zero-garbage and efficient SWM campaign by implementing it initially in a few high-visibility places across the city. NGOs, CBOs and other stakeholders in these places should be given full support to make the campaign successful, so that other areas in the city are inspired to replicate it.  

Issues related to communication / mass awareness  

Our recommendations for a Plan of Action to make Mumbai Chakachak cannot be complete without specific suggestions on  

  • Communication with citizens
  • Communication with housing co-op societies
  • Communication with slumdwellers and slum organizations
  • Communication with shopkeepers, office-complexes, industrial units, etc.
  • Communication with unions and employees
  • Communication with corporators, MLAs, MPs, and workers of political parties
  • Communication with volunteers of socio-cultural-religious organizations, CBOs, NGOs, Youth Clubs, Mahila Mandals, students and staff of schools and colleges
  • Communication with the MEDIA

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner