Chennai in dire need of more cleaning to keep up with Modi's Swachh mission

Last year’s survey noted that Chennai needed to accelerate its Swachh activity. A year on, the city does not even figure in the top 100 list. Tiruchy remains state topper.
Chennai in dire need of more cleaning to keep up with Modi's Swachh mission
Fact File

Chennai

The Swachh Survekshan 2017 rankings saw Greater Chennai ranked at 235 out of 434 cities across the country, indicating that the city needs to get its act together to tackle the monumental problem of solid waste generated daily. 
D Karthikeyan, Commissioner, Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), conceded that the civic body needs to take steps to improve in solid waste management. “Our problem is that we are yet to have a processing facility for solid waste generated daily. We have grand plans and within two months, concrete action will be taken to close the Kodungaiyur and Perungudi dumpyards. We are doing extensive source segregation work in North Chennai. I foresee a lot of development coming up in this area and source segregation will penetrate the entire city. we are planning many activities in this area,” he said. 
Source segregation has been implemented in various pockets of the city. On the day the Swachh Survekshan 2017 rankings were announced, Praveen P Nair, Regional Deputy Commissioner (North) was conducting a survey of dustbins in Manali. “We have extended source segregation and door-to-door collection in all seven divisions (15-21) in Manali (Zone 2). A year and a half ago, Manali generated 55 metric tonnes of solid waste per day. Today, 27 metric tonnes only goes to the dumpyards, as they are inerts. 50% of waste going to landfill has been reduced, since it is either composted (biodegradable waste) or sold (recyclable waste) through kabad iwallah network. This has helped us reduce 35 bins out of 227 in this zone and surrender four compactor vehicles, used to transport waste to dumpyards. Now, we have gone into micro planning — street dustbins will be surveyed thrice daily to understand where this waste is generated from, since we have doorto-door collection,” said the senior official. 
What would it take to implement source segregation in the entire city? Nair said, “Madhavaram and Tondiarpet zones too are fast catching up. However, source segregation is extra work for the person in the house and the person who collects it door-to-door. We gave incentives —free compost to residents who had a garden and for the collectors, the sales from recyclables will be divided. This is to show both the stakeholders the gains from their waste. Source segregation involves a lot of behavioural change.” Chennai scored 0 under ‘Awareness Campaigns & Behaviour Change’ category. However, the move to close the dumpyards has been moving sluggishly for more than six months. Every time this newspaper approached Corporation officials for a status report, the reply was, “It is in the Detailed Project Report (DPR) stage.” 
Experts say that the Corporation should move beyond the pilot phase. “The Corporation has been conducting pilot projects in source segregation since decades. We have to move beyond that and work on a war footing,” said Dharmesh Shah, a city-based waste policy expert. 
Shah also pointed out that the city’s solid waste management system is lagging due to its contractual system, where Ramky Enviro Engineers is the main contractor. “This system provides perverse incentives like tipping fees to contractors. This has not allowed the Corporation to implement door-to-door collection effectively, because of which source separation has also suffered. No contractor is interested in supporting door-to-door collection and source separation because it impacts their bottom line,” he said.

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