By Bhamy V. Shenoy
If one wants to appreciate the meaning of “Nero fiddling while Rome was burning”, just look at the way how our Corporators left the Council Hall recently fuming at the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Commissioner who could not give them the “promised” Rs. 50 lakh for each Ward.
Residents of Vidyaranyapuram keep complaining about the stink from Excel Plant; Mysureans continue to see garbage all over the city and Mysuru keeps descending down the Clean City ranking. Only four years back, Mysuru was given the ‘Cleanest City’ award. What should be our priorities? Corporators should have demanded the formation of Ward Committees as mandated by the High Court.
Where will MCC find Rs. 100 crore to install machines to convert waste into bio-fertilizers as reported in SOM dated Jan.7? This “magical” machine, by a Nagpur-based company, is supposed to convert garbage into paper, tar and bio-fertilizers. It is unfortunate that the Government source is trying to mislead Mysureans with this kind of news.
It is the Director of Mumbai- based Zigma (with an office in Chennai), who had coordinated Mysuru Team (led by the DC and the Mayor) to study their Nagpur installation to handle legacy waste which has been put into landfills over the years. Zigma does not handle daily waste as implied in the report. Its expertise is in handling landfill waste and restoring the land to its original form. It has successfully cleared the landfills in several cities in India like Kumbakonam, Noida, Poonamallee, etc. Currently they have ongoing projects in Vadodara, Nagapur (one visited by Mysuru Team), Chidambaram, Tirupati, Erode, Trichy, etc.
The Mumbai-based company does not claim to have the technology to convert garbage into paper or tar or bio-fertilizers.
While we in Mysuru should appreciate the efforts of our MP Pratap Simha in taking the initiative to handle the age-old problem of landfill by introducing Zigma, we need to develop ways of handling daily waste of about 450 to 500 tons.
There are still many steps like getting the formal approval, funding and tendering before the actual work starts even to handle legacy waste. There is no tender to start the work as suggested in the article. I want to repeat again that Zigma has no expertise to convert garbage into valuable products and we need different ways of handling the daily waste.
From time to time, consultants and aid agencies approach MCC to make presentations on Waste to Energy (WtE) processes. Thankfully none has been accepted so far. As reported in the media, Bengaluru seems to be getting ready to commit a blunder by investing in five WtE plants costing Rs. 1,500 crore. While waste handled by developed countries (not many countries have such WtE plants) has high percentage of combustible and non-biodegradable components with high calorific value and low moisture, the waste in Mysuru is different. We have high percentage of bio-degradable and less combustible components. I have analysed economics of several such plants and they are not economical.
Actually if only we had concentrated on Excel Plant in Vidyaranyapauram and continued to refine the process based on Indian know-how, we would have been better off. Alternately we should develop a decentralised way of handling segregated garbage by installing processes to compost garbage or use biomethanation (biogas technology in which CFTRI has considerable expertise) to generate energy in different parts of Mysuru.
After water, garbage is the next major problem Mysuru faces. If our Corporators and MLAs take interest like our MP took the initiative to solve legacy waste problem, we can find a solution.
At the same time, we the people also have to take up our responsibility seriously. Despite the best efforts of MCC to collect segregated garbage from our residences, there is still a significant percentage of households who do not bother to segregate the garbage. It is high time that MCC stops collecting garbage from such households and if they continue to dump on the road side, MCC should impose a heavy penalty.
It is high time, elected leaders, MCC and residents start taking garbage issue seriously or the day is not far off when it will become a major health issue affecting every one — rich and poor.
Our apartment complex finally began segregating its garbage a year and a half ago. Needed to educate and convince most of the residents before they started cooperating. Now things are smooth. We also began composting the wet waste on our own with just large drums with holes drilled in the sides, by mixing it with coco peat sourced from near Mysore. Now we use the compost to fertilize our garden. In all this the environmental engineer for our MCC zone, one Ms. Poornima, was very helpful and encouraging. Kudos to her.
But I still see some of the waste, after collection, being burnt in a nearby waste lot. Illegal, and producing toxic smoke and probably carcinogenic dioxins etc that will contaminate the soil and ground water. That is the next thing to be tackled.
Some great things happen when individuals take an initiative. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/civic/the-resurrection-of-mahim-beach/articleshow/73887050.cms
it is indeed praiseworthy that your apartment residents are a different lot in comparison to those in Sankalpa Apartments which is a gated community. One would expect that residents of such an upscale apartment will be more enlightened and will take care of garbage themselves without being told. I was shocked when one of the environmentally conscious resident narrated an incident regarding segregation problem. One of the “professional” resident of that gated community told her when she requested him to segregate the garbage. He told her that one of the reasons he moved into that complex is that he does not have to deal with such “mundane” things and he is not going to do that. If a literate person who must be fully aware of climate change and global warming ( I am sure if he is invited as a chief guest to deliver a talk on environment, he would deliver an erudite talk) does not worry, then we indeed have to do a lot of work to educate such literate folks.
I am glad that you complimented Poornima. I have also been impressed with her dedication to work when she associated herself with MGP’s Environmental School Warden Project last year. How I wish we have more such people in MCC.
Indeed Dr. Shenoy! This disconnect between mind, hand and heart seems to be a weakness of our culture. I leave it to the social scientists to debate its origins. Remember two of my professors in the US who built their own homes from the foundation up. A friend of mine worked with a Nobel laureate, who spent hours digging, raking and composting in his garden. My American host was a senior VP in one of the largest multinationals at the time. But he devoted many hours serving in the local homeless shelter, mentoring poor black kids, building homes for the poor as well as being actively involved in the community at the local as well as national and international level. So unlike the ‘professional’ you mention (and so many of our deified leaders). A Japanese friend of mine made this astute assessment of Indians in general. He said ” One Indian is equal to ten Japanese. But ten Indians are equal to one Japanese.”