Social Sanchar with Shri Vijay Singhal on 21st September’17
With the objective to stir citizens to understand more about the collection of dry and wet waste, and the steps taken by MCGM, on the 21st of September, 2017, V Citizens Action Network (VCAN) held a very special Social Sanchar with Shri. Vijay Singhal, Additional Municipal Commissioner MCGM, at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Colaba.
Mrs. Indrani Malkani, Managing Trustee, V Citizens Actions Network started the programme by introducing the Guest Speaker, Shri. Vijay Singhal IAS, a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award in Public Administration.
She also introduced two very special guests, Chief Information Commissioner Maharashtra, Shri. Ajit Kumar Jain and Dr. Sneha Palnitkar, whose contribution to solid waste management is well known in Mumbai. Mrs. Malkani also appreciated the commitment of colleagues like Ms Priya Salvi, who had come all the way from Karjat.
She then introduced V Citizens Actions Network, and explained how the Social Sanchar was to be conducted, before thanking the various partners and supporters of the Trust, especially Founding Partner Eureka Forbes, Support Partner for this Social Sanchar RDC Concrete (India) Pvt. Ltd, Venue Partner Royal Bombay Yacht Club and other Networking Partners and Jai Hind College whose students actively participated in the programme and will continue to collaborate with VCAN.
She then emphasised that waste management was not about creating any negotiations, as ultimately it is every citizen’s civic duty to separate their wastes. Other aspects she highlighted were the different types of waste, who are the generators of waste, how the MCGM is our municipality and not just a separate entity and the challenges related to the issue of waste transportation.
After apologising for being a bit delayed, Shri Singhal began his address by first outlining the current situation faced by the MCGM in disposing of solid waste. Surprisingly, the total solid waste generated by Mumbai dropped from 9500 tons to 7500 tons after Shri Singhal took over the portfolio, mainly helped by an increase in composting at the source, segregation, and removing construction debris from general solid waste.
He pointed out the difficulties faced by the MCGM in disposing this waste. He revealed that the idea of finding a new dumping ground was not as easy as it sounded as even in rural areas, the residents refused to have the city’s garbage dumped on their doorsteps.
He mentioned that there were several bulk producers of waste, and making sure that they processed their waste was critical. He also made mention of the measures included in the Swachh Bharat Mission that were crucial in tackling this issue.
On the often overlooked issue of ragpickers, he revealed that his men picked up only a small portion of the dry waste, the majority of which was collected by ragpickers, items like bottles, plastic, etc., and sold.
The importance of segregation was stressed by him over and over again. He also pointed out some new initiatives by him that aimed to leverage technology in optimising the waste collection, which he maintained were crucial to improve the levels of efficiency, even if they required a bit of adjusting in the short run. After talking about the infrastructural point of view, he touched upon the aspect of accountability of the conservancy workers and mentioned the linking salaries to the biometric devices used for attendance.
He said that while most buildings had the space to process their waste, if there were genuine cases of space constraints, the MCGM was willing to find a solution.
He ended his speech on a similar note, “Where there is a will, there is a way, on your side and my side!”
Mrs. Malkani then informed the audience that while Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Director of NEERI, was also supposed to have addressed the audience, he was unable to make it due to the rains, which forced his flight from Delhi to be cancelled.
Before moving on to the question and answer session, Shri Singhal revealed how the Citizens themselves must shoulder much of the blame for this situation. He recalled how during the heavy rains two days earlier, he was at the Irla Pumping Station, which had to be shut down temporarily due to huge amounts of polythene, plastic, thermocole, and other waste which had been dumped into the nullah and was choking the pumps. Emphasising that much of the waste we dump in our everyday usage, often ends up in the sea and we don’t realise, whatever we give to the sea, it gives us back. During high tides, we receive all the waste back to the city.
To a question on the 2nd October deadline, Shri Singhal assured that while the deadline was on the 2nd as earlier maintained, if there was a genuine issue or difficulty, they would consider extending the deadline for specific cases on written requests.
When asked about commercial tenants like restaurants, who generated a majority of the waste of a society, he replied that they would have to find a joint solution.
On a question about whether all the advisory and counselling services were available at the ward level, he replied that they would be organising more such exhibitions ward wise, and in addition, they had released a helpline as well as two Nodal Officers in each Municipal Ward.
In response to collection of waste from illegal roadside food stalls, he humourously replied that they would be removed altogether. On a more serious note, he revealed how the MCGM was cracking down on these stalls, especially those using gas cylinders on the footpath, even going as far as filing FIRs against senior officials of the Gas Companies providing the cylinders.
When asked about other types of waste like E-Waste, Biomedical Waste, and others, he said that they had set up collection centres for E Waste in schools, and special centres for Biomedical waste.
On construction debris and how they could be effectively disposed, he mentioned that the MCGM was setting up recycling centres to process these debris.
To a question on spreading awareness on the measures that could be taken to segregate waste, he agreed that more could be done to propagate it.
While answering a query on the MCGM promoting certain technology or providers over others, he categorically stated that the MCGM does not officially recommend anyone or any company. Companies who set up stalls at the MCGM’s exhibitions were in no way officially endorsed by the Corporation, it was merely to provide various options to the citizens for them to make their own decisions.
At this point, Shri. A.K. Jain shared his opinion about the whole waste management issue. He requested MCGM to provide some public space to technology vendors where they would be in a position to set up their machines in a decentralised way. He asked whether it would be possible for MCGM to list down the technology vendors with the help of NEERI, IIT and Waste Management Research Centre, with also indicating the cost of processing per tonne, to make sure that the technology used is technically viable, so that people need not have to hunt for appropriate technology options.
In response to the number of questions asked, as well as the interest in the topic amongst the public, VCAN announced the launch of a Facebook group ‘TogetherVCAN’, to enable the public to directly interact with officers representing the MCGM, as well as experts, vendors, and other citizens, to better tackle the issue of segregation and waste management.
The programme ended with Shri A. K. Jain presenting a memento on behalf of VCAN to Shri Singhal, after which the audience was invited to enjoy the tea and refreshments provided by the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.
To view the photos of the event click here.
To view the video of the event click here.
To view the press coverage of the event click here
To view the Ward-wise List of Designated Nodal Officers and their contact numbers click here.