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Wake Up Clean Up

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Solid Waste Management


  • In Aug 2012, Bangalore had the perfect storm. Initially a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) land fill in Mavalipura was closed by the Karnataka Pollution Control Board due to unhygienic conditions. The protests by villagers in Mandur, another land fill area led to a further shrinking of available ‘dump yards’, a term that effectively captures what landfills around the country finally end up being.  Around the same time garbage contractors in the city went on sympathy strike with the Corporation’s engineers who claimed they were unfairly targeted by the vigilance department. This led to over 10,000 tons of visible garbage rotting on Bangalore’s streets. This was Bangalore’s Singur moment – a wake up call that the old model of using villages around the periphery of the city as convenient dumping points was over.

In Feb 2013, the City Corporation (BBMP) had a unique week long awareness and Solid Waste Management (SWM) solution showcasing event at Freedom Park under the ‘Wake Up Clean Up’ (WUCU) umbrella, an event supported by the Bangalore City Connect Foundation (BCCF).  This event was targeted at bulk generators to manage their waste in situ or through shared services reducing the burden on the city SWM systems. A commitment to reduce 1500 tons per day out of the 3500 tons per day generated was made. Currently, efforts to handle both household and bulk waste continue in the city. The learning from this effort between government and civil society groups:

Problem Areas:

  • Landfills are no longer a sustainable option for dumping MSW
  • The existing legacy mountains of waste needs to be handled
  • Mixed waste is the bane of our cities and needs to go
  • Garbage contractors are essentially transport contractors. Consequently no interest in having waste segregation succeed
  • Rising consumerism leading to higher waste levels
  • Negligible professionalism among the waste solution providers
  • Low awareness and engagement among citizens
  • Lack of institutional capacity in the City Corporation.

Contours of the solution to address SWM:

  • The goal has to be to reduce waste going to land fill by over 85% and what needs to be headed there are inert material
  • Segregation at source needs to be mandatory with penal fines for non-compliance. State legislation necessary. Wet and dry waste is the new “Hum do, Hamare do”.
  • NIMBY (Not in my backyard) needs to give way to YIMBY (Yes in my backyard). This implies decentralised waste handling in neighbourhoods – “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”!
  • Dry waste collection centres in wards and integral yards to process wet and dry waste needed
  • A SWM vendor eco system with accreditation for service providers and certification for bulk handlers being worked on
  • Solution guide book for waste generators of all sizes to use
  • Active citizen engagement and drive to reduce black spots
  • Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) needed at a National level through appropriate laws
  • A SWM regulator at the State level.