Garbage bins vanish as BMC waves wand
But New Plan To Clear Waste Will Fail Unless Residents Cooperate
By Clara Lewis/TNN
Mumbai: Over the last month, community garbage bins on roads and footpaths in Prabhadevi and Bandra West have been disappearing.
No, they aren’t being pinched in the dead of night by a gang of bin thieves. The vanishing act is part of a new garbage clearance scheme adopted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Instead of collecting household waste from community bins on footpaths, the BMC has begun door-todoor collection under Parivartan Prakalp: Swachatta Abhiyaan, a cleanliness
campaign scripted by global consultants Mckinsey. A similar scheme has been in operation for the last two years in Vile Parle and Bandra East. The objective is to ensure garbage is not dumped on the roads, but goes straight from the housing society to the dumping yard.
Although a simple scheme, its success hinges on the purchase of a 120-litre waste-bin-on-wheels by housing societies. The cost is negligible—Rs 2,000—but not many societies in Prabhadevi and Bandra (west) have come forward to purchase it.
Around 80 housing societies in each ward have been provided with free bins. A sweeper appointed by the housing society collects waste from each house and dumps it in the society bin. The garbage truck then goes to the gate of the housing society, collects the garbage and heads for the dumping yard.
Normally, the sweepers throw the garbage into community bins which are cleared by the garbage truck every morning and are overflowing again by evening with garbage strewn all around. In some cases, the garbage remains rotting and uncleared for days. “Some just throw the garbage on the road making it filthy,’’ said P R Sanglikar, incharge of the cleanliness campaign.
The new scheme, in which the truck goes from society to society twice a day is more efficient, said Narendra Panchal, a member of the civic cleanliness squad. It is also quicker since the bins are mounted on wheels.
“Overflowing community bins were both an ungainly sight and attracted mosquitoes,’’ said Deepali Gurav, a resident of Phalke Wadi, Prabhadevi, hoping they don’t stage a comeback. In the Tata Press lane, the bin has given way to a beautification project by local residents.
Slum residents have not been provided with bins but have been given a time at
which the truck is parked outside. A civic worker, bell in hand, goes around the slum to announce the truck’s arrival. Residents dump their waste directly in the van, bypassing the community bins.
But the cleanliness drive is under a cloud of uncertainty: civic officials are worried about whether residents will buy and maintain their bins.
“Since it is an experiment, we have initially given bins free of cost, but we hope societies will eventually purchase them,’’ said D P Abhyankar, in-charge of the cleanliness drive in Prabhadevi. Unfortunately, residents have so far refused. “Even a reputed bank refused and demanded that we provide it free if we want the scheme to be implemented,’’ he said.
Anandini Thakur, a member of the Khar Residents’ Association, shares his worries. “People want the garbage to go but refuse to participate. They are not willing to contribute even one rupee a day, although they are affluent. The scheme will not succeed without the involvement of residents,’’ she said.
The association has roped in director Ashutosh Gowariker, known for his patriotic films Lagaan and Swades, to spread the message of clean community living.
With landfills reaching saturation points, governments across the world are charging citizens for the waste they produce.
The more your waste, the more you pay. In Zurich, residents have to purchase an official trash bag called Zuri-Sack costing five Swiss francs or US $4.25. Rigorous disposal and recycling programmes implemented for the past decade have resulted in a 40% decrease in household waste in Zurich. For residents who throw garbage out, the first-time fine is as steep as 260 Swiss francs.
Countries such as Austria, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden too charge residents on a “pay as you throw’’ basis.