Waste Management

Amongst the many planning aspects being ignored in the planning process, one is the management of huge amounts of waste that is being generated in the city, and the need to look to for a solution and alternative to the unsustainable, centralized system employed by the BMC in the city. Mumbai- reeling under pressure for scarcity of resources- needs to question the present growth pattern and if this growth is sustainable. Strain on available natural resources has been tremendously increasing. One of the most visible problems in this situation is the mishandling of waste. Only a fraction of the waste gets segregate and recycled, whatever little is made possible by an invisible set and yet unrecognized scores of people working in unorganized and hazardous conditions – “the waste-pickers”. But these set of “invisible environmentalists” are disadvantaged, exploited by middle-men and looked down upon by citizens and the state.

We aim to offer very concrete suggestions in the upcoming development plan and the process of its formulation with respect to the solid waste management system. Our arguments highlight the major issues in the city’s solid waste management system, and then suggest changes and the means of attaining some of the targets in the form of Development Plan (DP) reservations and changes in the Development Control Regulations (DCR).

Major issues
The present model is centralized, unsustainable, uneconomical and unhealthy: Some facts and figures about the city:

• Population : 13.5 Million
• Wards:24
• Area: 437 sq.km
• Dumping grounds: Deonar (132 hectares), Kanjurmarg (143 hectares), Mulund (25 hectares).
• Transfer stations: Mahalaxmi (2500 sqm), Kurla (2500 sq m), Versova (1500 sq m), Gorai (1100 sq m). Small trucks store and compact the garbage and then take it to the major dumping grounds.
• Total Waste Generation: 10809 tonnes of waste every single day (Sources: BMC website showing waste generation for individual wards.
• Kind of waste: Garbage:8922.5M.T/day, Debris/Silt: 1887M.T./day
• Total yearly expenditure in Collection, Transportation and Tipping fees: 1200 crores
• Approximate vehicles involved: 1000 Municipal and Private vehicles, and about 1500 trips a day.

Mumbai’s waste generation has been on a constant increase, from 3200 tonnes per day in 1981 to 5355 tonnes per day in 1991 (CPCB 2000). The increase in numbers also indicates that the growth in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in our urban centres have outpaced the population growth in recent year, which can be ascribed to our changing lifestyles, food habits, and change in living standards. Therefore, indicating a need for raising awareness of the populace and encourage in playing an active role in management of the city waste.

Mumbai now generates an astounding 10809 tonnes of waste every single day (source: BMC website showing waste generation for individual wards). Very few of the policy documents examine waste as part of a cycle of production-consumption-recovery, or perceive waste through a prism of overall sustainability. Waste management is still a non- cyclic system of collection and disposal, either in dumping grounds or local incinerations and open burnings, consequently creating considerable health and environmental hazards. The Municipal Corporation has been working with a centralized system where the everyday collection and transportation incurs considerable expenditure in form of transportation, the contracts for handling the waste and also the additional carbon emissions from vehicles that are transporting every kind of waste (non -segregated) and indiscriminately dumping it in the dumping grounds. Out of the 3 active dumping grounds, the biggest of them all, Deonar dumping ground has been ordered by the High court to shut down systematically. The other new one, Kanjurmarg dumping ground has also been mired in controversies for flouting environmental norms. All these issues suggest the acute need for a sustainable solution in the waste management of the city, which at present is an expensive way to destroy Mumbai’s ecology and the health of the thousands living and working next to the dumping grounds.

The Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2000 framed by the Government of India (GoI) makes it mandatory for the storage of garbage at the source and its synchronized collection at the doorstep. The MCGM has already declared the segregation and storage of garbage at source mandatory. But on the ground, the waste is being continually dumped in the landfills without any forethought. This is only leading to escalating budgets, increasing pollution due to transportation, health issues for residents around the landfills and hazardous conditions for the workers engaged in segregation at dumping locations.