NAGPUR: To make any initiative, which aims at public good, successful, people's participation is a must. For an exercise like garbage segregation, about which the people have heard but care little, the first step would be to create awareness, said Vishakha Rao, an environment activist associated with NGO Hirvai. "Otherwise, it is not going to work," she made it clear.
Emphasizing how awareness holds the key, Nagpur Municipal Corporation NMC ruling party leaders Sandip Joshi pointed out that 40% people in the city live in slums. "They have nothing to do with segregation," he said and gave example of Dharavi where slum dwellers were provided two dustbins for segregating garbage. "Entire garbage is still being dumped in one bin while another is used for storing water," he said.
People need motivation to participate in such initiatives, said Sandeep Agrawal, a chartered accountant and I-Clean activist. "It will come only through awareness," he said.
Seema Kaushal, a housewife who supports the initiative, has apprehensions about its execution. "There is a rule to levy fine on people spitting at public places. So far, I haven't seen anybody being punished for the act," she said while drawing a parallel.
Tulika Upadhayay, a housewife active in the field of garbage segregation, said that since the NMC has shortage of sanitary staff, it is the responsibility of Kanak Resources and Management Pvt Ltd, the agency entrusted with garbage management, to create awareness among citizens.
Giving example of his Prabhag 18, Congress corporator Rushikesh 'Bunty' Shelke threw light on how the sanitary inspectors are not performing their duties diligently. "On record, 83 sanitary workers have been assigned to the ward but in reality only around 35 are on duty, which is less than even 50%," he said.
The city generates around 1,100 tonnes garbage daily. Private operator Hanjer Biotech is manufacturing compost using only 150-200 tonnes waste. The waste-to-energy project will take at least two years to get operational. Considering the current scenario, additional deputy municipal commissioner Jayant Dandegaonkar agreed that people will accept garbage segregation only when they are convinced that the NMC will put it to best use. "We have projects in the pipeline to address the concerns," he said.
Joshi said though the waste-to-energy project is not yet operational, the segregated garbage will be dumped separately. "Wet garbage will be used for composting. Dry garbage like metal, plastic and e-waste will be sorted," he added.
Taking up the issue of garbage burning in the open, Agrawal said that common citizens alone cannot be blamed as the same is being done by sanitary workers at official bungalows in Civil Lines.
Tulika pointed out how the sanitary workers shirk their responsibility even after they are given segregate garbage to be dumped in pits for composting at a garden in her area. She added that such workers refuse to budge even after threatening them with complaints that could lead to punishment or wage cut.
Agreeing with them, Joshi said it is the permanent workers who evade work despite being provided facilities while those on contract are performing their duties.
Shelke expressed concern over how the NMC will convince the slum dwellers to segregate garbage when they have been denied basic sanitary facilities like sewage and drainage lines. Trying to allay the fear, Agrawal gave the example of Takia slums which he said was very clean. "But why point fingers at only slum dwellers when even people from the affluent class shamelessly throw garbage on the road," he asked.
Talking about the work being done to make garbage segregation successful, Kamlesh Sharma, project head, Kanak Resources Management Pvt Limited, said, "We are training our staff on how to create awareness among people. Daily meetings are being held with the workers to apprise them of their role. We have also involved ragpickers for segregating garbage. Also, we are paying good money to door-to-door garbage collectors."
According to Rao, no hi-tech processes are involved for composting garbage. Kaushal too pointed out that composting is quite easy. "What we need is segregation of garbage at households. The NMC has taken the right step with the initiative, she said and also gave example of Mahdibagh, which she said was the cleanest in the city due to people's participation. Agrawal said Raj Nagar is another area which can be a good example.
Joshi added that things will not improve all of a sudden but we will have to make a beginning. "The NMC proposes changes in by-laws to ensure strict enforcement for garbage segregation," he said. To this, Kaushal said, "At least, we will be leaving behind a good lesson for the coming generations."