Inputs to BMC Solid Waste Management five year vision plan – Swacch Mumbai

In November 2014 The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai – MCGM or also BMC – invited citizens who have been involved with the solid waste management issue to contribute to a five year vision plan that they are developing to address Mumbai’s waste management. The following message was received in my inbox.

Sir,
In response to Hon. Prime Minister of India’s call for “Swachcha Bharat” at the launch of this ambitious nation-wide programme on 2nd October, 2014, MCGM intends to prepare a comprehensive five year action plan about cleanliness and sanitation for the entire city of Mumbai under “Swaccha Mumbai Abhiyaan”. 
In view of the same, suggestions are requested from different stakeholders. We are aware that your organization plays an important role in tackling various issues related to urban solid waste management and is actively working in your field of expertise.
We would welcome if your organization could share its expertise in form of views/suggestions/recommendations for developing a vision document for Clean Mumbai. We will take into consideration your valuable inputs/suggestions and draft an action plan to achieve total cleanliness in the city by 2019.

Regards,

Office of Chief Engineer (Solid Waste Management)
89, Love Grove Complex,
Dr. Annie Besant Road,
Worli- 400018
In response I put in the email copied below in italics with this attachment MCGM Budget for decentralised SWM. The sheet in the PDF document is work in progress but my reading is that for Rs, 30 crores such a setup can work very well and the BMC should absolutely invest in such an initiative. Like I have been continuously saying that there is no rocket science at all in waste management. One of the biggest components is training, education, awareness and enforcement all of which is human resource intensive.
BMC is wasting crores of public money on corrupt transportation contracts which are meant for siphoning of public money and create the problem of garbage dumps but is not willing to spend on hand holding and training of people. Every European and North American country has spent enormously on capacity building to achieve the great cleanliness standards that they have.  If you still haven’t seen the Satyamev Jayate episode please do here for some more insight.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for providing the opportunity to contribute to the process of developing a vision document for Clean Mumbai. I apologise for the delay since I was very busy. I have following three specific suggestions which the BMC should consider for implementation.

1) Create budget to hire dedicated human resource for supporting segregation
As a country we are acutely aware of the need to reduce the amount of waste that goes to dumping grounds and to take all necessary measures to achieve the same. The issue has been taken cognizance of adequately by various statutory institutions of the country – the Supreme Court, Parliament and urban local bodies. And yet we are seeing that in Greater Mumbai ever greater amounts of waste is being sent to dumping grounds.

We can only transform our good intentions into outcomes if we allocate human and financial resources in the right direction. We need to demonstrate that we are sincere and serious about reducing waste going to dumping grounds and are not just giving it lip service. Towards that end please find attached a spreadsheet drawing out a proposal to create the necessary budget for hiring the right human resource for undertaking activities and education which will show definite reduction in waste going to dumping grounds.

The spread sheet is still in draft stage and meant to give an idea. One manager per ward and 10 communicators/specialists per ward should be hired. Those numbers are presented. I will be happy to detail and contribute further when the idea find support conceptually. This in my list is the most important step which teh MCGM needs to undertake.

2) Creating an R&D and social entrepreneur support Budget

We need to create and R&D and innovation support fund in the budget. Grants need to be made available to SWM entrepreneurs to try out their projects. This will make available over the years a rich bank of practical knowledge about what is working and not working. I propose that Rs. 5 crores be kept aside in the SWM budget for such activity and a committee of known experts and practioners be formed to scrutinise and approve the proposals.
3) Create physical space for decentralised SWM
In the DP meetings earlier this year the most emphatic suggestion we made was the create space within the city for decentralsied solid waste management activities. The corporation needs to urgently create at least one more per ward dry waste collection and sorting centres like the one successfully running in Juhu, operated by Ragini Jain on BMC plot of about 10000sft. Once the space is provided the entrepreneur is able to set up support infrastructure like van for dry waste collection, administrator etc. setting in place a positive cycle and reduced waste going to dumping grounds.
Thank you once again for the opportunity and I will appreciate if MCGM comes back with comments on my suggestions and decides to incorporate these.

Regards,

Rishi Aggarwal

Research Fellow

Observer Research Foundation Mumbai

Would be happy to hear from you in the form of comments or email me. Please do share as well if you consider relevant.
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