Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Bangalore Garbage Saga! A conversation with N S Ramakanth

This blog can be rightly called 'The Bangalore Garbage Saga'. 

The basic strategy is simple and  well explained.
The levels 
I am impressed at the media coverage. We have probably produced as much verbiage as the garbage we create. It is also trendy with a facebook page by BBMP . But not on the trendier twitter! But I did see a tweet from Kiran Mazumdar which said 'Take garbage off BBMP’s hands,.. I fully endorse this proposal'. But I could not access the article she was referring to.

A picture on the BBMP facebook page. Very educative and impressive! There are clear instructions on how to segregate garbage and how it is collected. Only  Debris is collected for a fee. ( Now we know why debris is allover the place for months!). Also Wet waste is collected daily from our door or nearest point. (In my case the nearest point is just opposite our home is  where garbage is casually thrown!) 
I learn from my chats with Ramakanth that while the strategy looks simple, especially for an Individual,  just segregate the solid waste from wet waste,  it is in fact very complex. There are many layers of activity in garbage management.

 While he soldiers on as an Individual, he is also active as a member of the BBMP Expert Committee on Municipal Waste Management...and part of the Solid Waste Management Round Table. And NSR is constantly on the job. 

It is his passion to see something is done to clean up this ugly mess. But I find that it is NOT just the garbage that is ugly! While the nexus between contractors, politicians and officials is well known, Ramakanth and many other committed citizens have chosen to work within the system to break the stranglehold the trio have over the management of waste in Bangalore.

 And it is not going to be easy as the system of exploitation is well entrenched and why would anyone give up the easy pickings? Only a smart and a responsible government that can find a way out of this, by creating alternatives for those affected. You just cannot wish them away. Look at the way this group of people have been dumping garbage near villages for the last ten years. Obviously their conscience, if they have any, has not been pricked. I am not sure whether they are even god-fearing! I would have nightmares if I knew I was directly responsible for the sickness in these villages. 

In fact, we the city-dwellers are also responsible. We all share the blame in one way or the other. It is probably this guilt, apart from the stench that has made many citizens act. I spoke to Dr. Meenakshee Bharat, an activist involved deeply in this war on garbage, and she said that apart from the ugliness she was deeply worried about the health hazards created by the garbage strewn around the city.

The latest  is the involvement of the High-court because of an  PIL and its weekly follow up on the progress on its directives. The group of people involved with PIL are patient, unafraid and not one to give up. There is hope something good will come out of their efforts.

If you wonder why is the high court  involved in all this, it proves you have been away and have not kept track. Often times it appears that the executive wing, namely politicians and  bureaucrats who should implement; appear lethargic, uncaring or just unpredictable. A friend who knows better said that a politician having made so many promises to so many diverse groups of people that he takes shelter in a court order to explain if he has to renege on his promise. And it is the bureaucrat who takes the heat from the judiciary. Very complex.

 But it is clear that without a PIL and the judiciary taking it seriously, the garbage crisis would have gone on forever. And I guess there are attempts to scuttle the court directives through various means!
Since his involvement began in SWM, he is busy giving workshops to individuals and various organisations. A grass roots approach. He talks to the lower officials in BBMP and others and coaxes them to act. He goes to schools and enthuses children to get involved.

 He is pleased to say that 100 apartment buildings consisting of 25,000 flats have adapted the system and 12 hotels invited him to give workshops and 7 of them have implemented.  Hospitals generally have a garbage handling system of their own and few have adapted the more broader methods of handling garbage. Among public limited companies HAL and BEL have adopted, BHEL is in process. 

 He is disappointed that while the strategy is to REDUCE, in reality the opposite is happening. For instance in a traditional South Indian wedding lunch which is served many innovations have been added.  The grand way a roll of paper is unfurled over the table is impressive. And the table is cleared in a jiffy as the paper is just folded along with the banana leaf. Then there is the plastic bottle of water, a safe bet after our tap water became unsafe and the tissues at the wash basin to dry your palm .
A small pellet expands vertically as water is poured on it.

 And now the ultimate, a small pellet transforms itself into a wet tissue when you pour water on it.

This tendency of using tissue paper, bottled water and paper cups is not easy to change.
He says a few have adapted, using plastic cups instead of paper cups. Thick plastic glasses which can be recycled could also be used. Plastic cups can be recycled, if  segregated and kept clean . 

This is just one example and there are many! Organisers of conferences, events, weddings and other functions all have the 'Use and throw' mind set.. They and the caterers are not easy to convince. But excuses are plenty, cleaning is not up-to the standard, labor is not available and also water is scarce. All justifiable. So it is easier to ignore the advises given.  Convincing takes a lot of effort and NRI ‘s are more difficult to convince!

He has many suggestions to offer: Leftover food to be preserved separately which can be used to produce bio-gas or food for piggeries. Regards plantain leaves rolled along with paper, 90 % can be recycled if segregated ..
In his experience in any apartment complex say out of 600 flats 10% do not segregate.. so local volunteers are needed to monitor…  90% are  ladies and they are good.. working ladies devote week ends…
Hopes that BBMP will get stricter in enforcing segregation. He feels real commitments are needed. And there is a need for follow up  and even punish those who do not segregate. Inspectors should make surprise inspections..on individual houses as well…to fine (Rs.100)  if they do not segregate. 

 I also asked  NSR about the concrete dust bins which was a common sight in my younger days! And  about the small trolleys pushed by women I see in Kumara Park. He said that around the year 2000 dustbins were removed and a new system was intoduced in Bangalore. He said  the idea was inspired by the Singapore model. It was a brilliant idea but it seems it has gone the way of all good intentions in our city.

The idea of pourakarmikas while it appeals, it is almost Gandhian, the system is flawed. It is nice to imagine a dedicated person moving around the community collecting garbage, segregating and delivering to the collecting point and so on. But employing these small time contractors is not efficient. There is no supervision of their work and obviously no commitment. NSR also noted that the trolleys are not maintained well and once the bearings go, it is hard for the women to pull them with a load. 
I have seen a trolley with just a broom and a couple of plastic bags hanging on them. And I have seen trolleys full of garbage parked next to a garbage dump on the road. There is also the usual complaint about contractor not paying their workers.
Mid day and his trolley is empty!

 Around 50 workers participated in the protest and demanded that the system of paying wages through contractors should be done away with and instead the money reach them directly from BBMP. ...

It is not just the BBMP or the contractors, it is also us.I quote:
Though the bins were removed .., people still think of the area as a place to dump garbage. The look and feel of the area just adds to this assumption.
...... SM Krishna became Chief Minister, and declared that Bangalore will be like Singapore, and set up a new garbage collection system. He banned the street dustbin, and set up a door-to-door garbage collection system – using pushcarts and small three-wheeler autos. It was made illegal to dump garbage on street corners, people had to retain their daily garbage at home till the pickup person came to their home to collect. It was a total change in approach – a radical change of the way things had been for decades. It’s a good system, an ambitious system, but people are bad.” 

.....Old habits die hard. Rather than wait for collection, people come here and dump like they always used to – as this ‘point’ was the location of the old community dustbin. . – the fact that the physical bin is gone means nothing. People are used to walking around the corner and dumping at their convenience – they can’t be bothered waiting for the pickup person”.  The Ugly Indian

Read more at: http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/why-doesn-t-bengaluru-have-garbage-bins?utm_source=copy

So much for the Individual and his sense of responsibility and the most favored option of Reduce.    But I understand that some RWA's are well organised and many residential apartments do follow the rules and manage the garbage better. 

To my query about collection centers for dry waste, I was thinking of electronic and batteries and such.  He said there was one in KP East, Out of 198 wards in Bangalore, 170 have dry waste collection centers and about 50% are working, (He said he had been to Dubai recently and saw such centers at Petrol pumps)

Anyway once the garbage is collected from the individual, there are many ways it can be dealt with, but the least desirable option of landfill was the one BBMP chose.  I asked him about the big vans I had seen parked near some BBMP offices. Compactors as he called them were not used to collect garbage from house to house as we see in the developed countries, but they are used to transport garbage to the landfills.

And what he added made me feel good! He said villagers do not allow open lorries to pass through and hence BBMP have fifty compactors and the contractors have forty to transport garbage to these landfills.

And the garbage is being processed and it is thanks to a court order. He said two firms Terra Firma and MSPG  handle 1000 and 500 tons each, Mavalipura about 100-150 tons. These units have to be operated in an isolated place and there are 90 compost plants for Biogas. Dobbespet has one, 50 kms from Bangalore. As you convey garbage further away you pay the contractors for transport.

 However it is good to know that since the infamous days since Bangalore was named a garbage city, there is an attempt to find ways to solve the problems. While the authorities continue to make do with stop- gap solutions. Thanks to a PIL filed by an NGO and seriousness with which the case is taken, there is hope.

I quote from SWMRT:
In July 2012 a PIL was filed by Kavitha Shankar against the Government and the respective departments for failure to comply with the laws under the Environment Protection Act, therefore the case of SWM for the city was moved from the Lok Adalat to the High Court. SWMRT has since then been the core supporters to the petitioner in regards to research, technical knowledge and solutions to frame relevant submissions to the High Court. 

He says there are laws, and all we need is to enforce and implement them. The last one year after the court heard the PIL they have a hearing each month. NSR is very hopeful that all this will change as per court order the decision is now  to decentralize as per committee recommendations. Government will allot land to set up processing centers. He said the aim is to see that Dry waste does not go out! Out of 4000 tons 1000 tons should not go out to landfills. Hopefully the 3 R's  Reuse-Recover-Recycle are applied at these processing centers. That again is a big subject. 

Here is a report which is worth reading to understand the complexities involved. The enormity of the job ahead..

City Statistics
 Area: 800 sq km Population(2008): 78 lakhs Households: 25 lakhs Commercial Properties: 3.5 lakhs No of Zones: 8 No of Wards: 198
  Primary Collection (Door to Door collection) ... is performed using pushcarts and auto tippers There are around 11000 pushcarts; 650 auto tippers for Door to Door collection of waste. 
There are about 600 MSW transportation vehicles including Compactors, Tipper Lorries, Dumper placers; Mechanical Sweepers... The waste collected from the households is brought to a common point ie.,... from where the waste is shifted to the treatment sites through compactors; tipper lorries. Segregation at source 10%; ...hence unsegregated waste reaches the processing plants. 

NSR has many wishes which need to be fulfilled:

It should not depend on individuals as then enforcing becomes a problem, it should be a system
Engineers should be made accountable. Unfortunately they have many responsibilities,
 hence SWM is a part-time responsibility, which makes it easy to give excuses and becoming accountable.. DMA is much better, environment officers looking after SWM
Also there is a shortage of 80 engineers.

Citizens are ready –implementing agencies are still not receptive- a change is required
Still things are changing slowly. Thermacol is recycled – Tender coconut is recycled- sugar cane husk is also used. One unit in freedom park

He is also hopeful that the push by PM Narendra Modi for a Swatcha Bharat will help in changing the mind set of the people all across.

Below is a video which covers the subject well. And you see Ramakanth being interviewed!

And finally a TOI report sums it up! Read on if you want to be depressed!
Bangalore city planners don't want a solution to garbage problem

BANGALORE: The city's infamous garbage is raising a stink again. Mandur, one of the city's biggest landfills, has shut the door hard on Bangalore - it's anger evident in Sunday's episode where the residents shooed away the city's development minister and mayor.

Bangalore, the city presided over by three MPs, 29 city MLAs, 198 corporators and a battery of officers in the BBMP, also has a minister to exclusively handle its issues. Yet, the waste problem springs up every quarter.

Why has IT City failed to resolve the garbage crisis? The problem lies in the mindset of the city's planners. Segregation has never been an alternative, rather, it's always been a 'throw-it-in-the- neighbour's yard' attitude.

Landfills cannot be a solid waste solution to a growing city like Bangalore, and Mandur is perhaps the best example to demonstrate this. Until 2005, Mandur village in Hoskote taluk, located around 25km away from Bangalore, was green and healthy. Then, the BBMP signed an agreement with the Mandur gram panchayat to allow garbage dumping in a quarry nearby. The agreement was signed only for a year, but nine years on, the dumping hasn't stopped.

With the agreement, Mandur swapped its famed grape farms, vegetables and seri-culture for a pervasive sickly stench, pollution and ill-health. The unscientific dumping has polluted water bodies, and spawned mosquitoes and stray dogs.

Almost a decade later, there are no solutions for the 1,800 tonnes of garbage that Bangalore generates because there's a ready made dump nearby. Every night, 200 trucks leave the city for Mandur, piled high with waste. Over the years, the mound has grown to a solid 25 lakh tonne garbage mountain.

As the garbage contractor-politician nexus grew stronger, successive BBMP commissioners were forced to toe the line of this strong lobby. When the crisis broke out in 2012, then BBMP commissioner Rajneesh Goyal initiated the campaign of waste segregation. But barely had the initiative taken wing, than he was shunted out. His successor reverted to the old method of dumping in landfills.

As for the 198 corporators, they are clueless about any solution to the city's stinking crisis

Finally I conclude with a few media reports!

Experts Welcome Focus on Solid Waste Management

BBMP Commissioner M Lakshminarayana said ..., `100 crore has been allotted to Bangalore for dealing with the garbage menace. The BBMP will use the amount to set up waste processing units, he said....the financial crisis faced by BBMP will be resolved soon. We can now set up processing units and other facilities for waste disposal,” .....

BBMP Solid Waste Management Expert Committee member N S Ramakanth said the announcement comes as a relief to BBMP, which is facing a financial crunch.
(My cynical mind hopes that it is used well without the leakages we see in most projects!)

A paper by the BBMP commitee 'A future with NO LANDFILLS'
The Expert Committee wishes to submit to the Honorable High Court of Karnataka a short note defining its vision of Zero Waste to landfills, designed to eliminate the practice of sending unlimited trash to landfills and incinerators. The crisis in Bangalore in August 2012, wherein the KSPCB ordered the Mavalipura Landfil to temporarily stop accepting waste to enable site cleanup. 

It is totally a listing the many 'Lacks' in the system. And the recommendations submitted to the High court by BBMP expert committee. One can only hope.

And an act of bravery: When a citizen contests BBMP Chief's claims in the court
Nalini Shekhar, Co- founder of Hasirudala, an NGO that has formalised waste pickers submitted to the court that some of their team members and a resident of an apartment had become the victims of goondaism, in five areas - Whitefield, Marathahalli, Bellandur, HSR Layout and Bannerghatta.

 Nalini told the court that they take two to three months to train the residents how to segregate the waste. She said, “Once we start operating the system, the contractor creates problem.” In one instance, the NGO’s waste collecting vehicle was hi-jacked. She also complained to have received life-threatening calls from the contractors and goondas. On approaching police, they refrained from filing the case, “as an MLA was involved in it,” added Nalini. 
The vehicle was released after negotiations with the contractor, she added.  She informed court that in the past, Hasirudala tried working together with the contractors but their methods of working wouldn't match, hence they could not work together. In this regard, the court asked the State Government Advocate Pratibha R to ask the government how to deal with the rowdy elements in the society.

Karnataka High Court reins Indian Environment Ministry's regressive reforms on waste management:

The segregation of solid waste was prescribed on the basis of the recommendations of the Expert Committee as well as in pursuance of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in more than one case. Accepting the said Rules, it is submitted the authorities throughout the country have spent considerable amount in educating the citizens of this country the need to segregate the waste at source. In Bangalore, sufficient money is spent by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike by way of advertisements in Press, in electronic Media and even by holding public meetings. In fact, to store segregated waste, places are selected in each ward and provision is made for collection of dry waste and removal of dry waste once in three days and transportation of the same. At this juncture of time, without any reason, justification or complaint against this well established system, curiously, in the 2013 Rules, Schedule-II is deleted giving an impression that it is not obligatory any more to segregate the waste at source. It is a clear case of misreading the order. It is in that context, the court wanted to know the reasons.”

The High Court's 24th October order modifies the earlier order of 11th October and allows the Ministry to “...proceed to consider the objections and then prepare yet another draft rules and thereafter they shall place it before the court.” But it has directed that the Ministry “..shall not give effect to 2013 Rules in the light of the observations made above” and without “scrutiny” of the High Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

HC orders BBMP to start nine waste processing units soon

Bangalore, Sep 1, 2014, DHNS:

The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to open garbage processing units at nine places across the City at the earliest. The bench also wanted the BBMP to rope in corporate houses to assist in the upkeep of the City. DH photo

The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to open garbage processing units at nine places across the City at the earliest. .. also wanted the BBMP to rope in corporate houses ......
The commissioner also said ....(Plot) owned by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), would be handed over to the BBMP .....

When told that this site has been encroached upon and several illegal structures have come up there, the court directed the BBMP and the BDA to clear the encroachment and then take possession of the property.

There you go! While it is frustrating to see way things are moving in Bengaluru, I was happy to see Pune aiming at zero-landfill. Pune is my second home town!

Mar 31, 2014 | From the print edition
Pune aims to become a zero-landfill city by 2015. With .. options like localised biogas plants and composting facilities, .... door-to-door waste collection and segregation, the target does not seem too ambitious. However, the city municipal corporation needs to ensure it does not fall into the trap of easy answers .....

Bengaluru, on the other hand, is forced by a high court order to do what Pune is already doing. But due to shoddy implementation, the city is still drowning in waste. 
Bengaluru is making the right moves in managing waste, but these are foiled by a nexus between contractors and politicians
Arnab Pratim Dutta reports from Pune and Aparna Pallavi from Bengaluru

Here is hoping that the great garbage saga ends with good news and Zero Landfill is a reality.

And  it is interesting to know what is happening else where. The review of the book is an eyeopener. 

Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash  – August 29, 2006 by Elizabeth Royte  (Author)

Out of sight, out of mind ... Into our trash cans go dead batteries, dirty diapers, bygone burritos, broken toys, tattered socks, eight-track cassettes, scratched CDs, banana peels.... But where do these things go next? In a country that consumes and then casts off more and more, what actually happens to the things we throw away? In Garbage Land, acclaimed science writer Elizabeth Royte leads us on the wild adventure that begins once our trash hits the bottom of the can. Along the way, we meet an odor chemist who explains why trash smells so bad; garbage fairies and recycling gurus; neighbors of massive waste dumps; CEOs making fortunes by encouraging waste or encouraging recycling-often both at the same time; scientists trying to revive our most polluted places; fertilizer fanatics and adventurers who kayak amid sewage; paper people, steel people, aluminum people, plastic people, and even a guy who swears by recycling human waste. With a wink and a nod and a tightly clasped nose, Royte takes us on a bizarre cultural tour through slime, stench, and heat-in other words, through the back end of our ever-more supersized lifestyles. By showing us what happens to the things we've "disposed of," Royte reminds us that our decisions about consumption and waste have a very real impact-and that unless we undertake radical change, the garbage we create will always be with us: in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we consume. Radiantly written and boldly reported, Garbage Land is a brilliant exploration into the soiled heart of the American trash can.

Monday, December 15, 2014

'Segregation is the real solution for managing garbage' says N S Ramakanth

My earlier blog said 'A crisis as usual in Bengaluru. If only we had listened to N S Ramakanth and others like him!' 

I never imagined when I moved to Bengaluru that I would be given an annoying morning darshan (view) of garbage dumped right opposite our home. Garbage is moved from here about twice a week to the railway parallel road. It is convenient to spread the garbage on that road to enable laborers to pick pieces of value(!) from it . It is then moved and dumped someplace in the outskirts. Or often it is just burnt on the road early in the morning!  When I grumbled  about it to my friends, they advised 'talk to someone who can change the location'!

My morning darshan. You might say 'Don't look!'  We do learn to put our blinkers on!
I had no idea or cared  where it was dumped later! But my attitude changed after I saw the video on Mandur ..the condition of the village is shocking! The land fill in Mandur is actually hills and hills of just garbage... wonder why the village leaders accepted so much garbage?    I just cannot envisage living there. 

 My first reaction to the video was one of disgust and anger.  The villagers surely faced serious health problems and loss because of some very thoughtless selfish actions and I felt responsible however indirect.  Unfortunately while we have contributed to their suffering, we do not seem to really bother. While we may individually feel committed to help, as a society we need systems to take care of this humongous task and making our city clean. Also our citizens need to act as a civilized people.  I strongly believe each of one of us in Bengaluru who jointly create 4500 tons of garbage a day need to do better to alleviate this situation.

In any civilized society garbage disposal seems easy for individual homes and are sincerely followed. Indians who have lived abroad are used to garbage collection and follow the rules diligently. Sadly it is not the same in India. 
Courtsey Wikipedia.
A few vehicles specially meant for garbage collection are parked
 at some points in Bengaluru.  I have not seen it at work but and I mean to check!
Things were different earlier and it seemed that garbage management would get better with time. We do have access to technology. But it is obviously not used effectively if you look around you!
We do not see these  dustbins anymore in our locality.
I see women with trolleys collecting garbage. But I continue to see it dumped in front of my house.
I wonder what they really do with the various containers. I am sure it will get clear once I talk to  Ramakanth.

Garbage handling is not simple anymore.  The explosion of all sorts, the population, the plastics, batteries, electronic goods and so on has made it difficult..I remember that the 'Kasada Thotti' (dust bins) did not get filled as much in my younger days. I guess many of us had little gardens and the wet waste was used there. 

We had no plastic bags and we saved the dry waste, mostly news papers diligently. It is true during festival days there would be a lot plantain leaves strewn around the dust bin. It was ugly but anyway the cows would stroll in and take care. In short, places like Mandur were not invaded then.

 Not that there were no dirty localities within the city adjoining the better ones. It is likely the administrators of the city just did not bother to consider them as a part of the city. I remember our mayor N. Keshava staying at a slum in Srirampur to highlight the plight of slum dwellers!

Of the many pictures on line, I liked this best and borrowed it!
To learn more about this problem I went across to meet Ramakanth. And as he spoke, I understood that there are many levels of activity and involvements of many more is necessary. 

  He is constantly speaking, taking workshops, to individuals, apartments owners, schools, hotels, restaurants, marriage halls and even temples. He has also interacted with  government organisations with mixed results.  While his efforts have made an impact and he is happy with his successes he knows a lot more is required to be done. He is particularly happy with New Krishna Bhavan in Malleswaram and many apartment complexes who co-operated with him. (More about it in my next blog!)

The level of importance is quite clear
The picture above illustrates involvement of many in dealing with solid waste management. As I interacted with Ramakanth I also searched the web for more information. Fortunately I came across a blog on line on waste management in India.
 I quote Antonis Mavropoulos:    
 I would say that from a sustainability point of view, the future of waste management in India is an issue with global importance and impacts, rather than a typical national or local aspect. The same is also true about China,...50% is the increase in MSW generated within a decade since 2001...

Within next ten years India will generate a total of 920 million tons of MSW! Almost 91% of it will be landfilled (hopefully) or driven to dumpsites!

Speaking only for the city of Mumbai, open burning of solid wastes and landfill fires emit nearly 22,000 tons of pollutants per year! Open burning was found to be the largest single polluter in Mumbai!  

So where did I find those impressive figures? ... It is at http://swmindia.blogspot.com/  and I am sure that you will enjoy it.After some days I noticed that Ranjith has uploaded a recent (January 2012) and very well elaborated report with the title “Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India”. ..You can find the whole report at http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/wtert/sofos/Sustainable%20Solid%20Waste%20Management%20in%20India_Final.pdf

China also figures in a 2005 study of its situation in solid waste management. 
Introduction: The control of solid waste pollution is an important aspect of environmental protection in China. According to Chinese law, solid waste is classified into three types: industrial solid waste (ISW), municipal solid waste (MSW), and hazardous waste (HW). Along with the recent economic development of China, the quantity of solid waste generated has increased rapidly. This represents a huge challenge for environmental management in China and has exacerbated the problem of solid waste pollution.......
The majority of waste paper, waste metal, waste containers, and waste plastic is separated and sold to private collectors, so the proportion of recoverable materials has not increased.

Many cities have no modern MSW landfill sites because of poor economic conditions, but the MSW produced has to be disposed of every day, so the MSW is dumped at some selected sites. If MSW is dumped at a site appointed by local government, it is called “dumping at an appointed site” and is legal. If MSW is dumped at a site not appointed by the local government, it is called “discharging” and is illegal. Currently, there are 651 disposal facilities for MSW in China, including 528 landfill sites, 78 composting plants, and 45 incineration plants. 2 The majority of incineration plants are located in eastern China. Of the total of 45 incineration plants, 25 are in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Guangdong, which are the littoral provinces, and possess 80% of the incineration capacity of the whole country. Most composting plants use the static aeration system; dynamic vessel systems with high temperatures are used in about 20% of composting plants. Half of the total 78 composting plants with a capacity of 16000 tons/day are in eastern China.
 Landfill is the main disposal method for MSW in China, but most landfill sites do not satisfy the national pollution standards. .....In addition, there is no landfill gas collection equipment at most landfill sites. Higher requirements have been adopted for newly constructed landfill sites, including being equipped with high density polyethylene (HDPE) geomembrane to prevent leakage, leachate collection and treatment systems, and gas collection and emission systems. These newly constructed landfill sites make up one-third of the total number of land- fill sites. 

There is plenty to read about waste management in the report,  but I would hazard a guess that many positive steps would have been taken to meet the situation in China.

Out of curiosity I checked the website to see how other countries dealt with this situation. In USA waste management is a huge business and one such organisation is covered by wikipedia. The numbers are amazing.
WasteManagement Inc is a Public limited company  with a revenue of US$ 14.4 billion in 2014 with assess at US$ 21.1 billion and had a net income of US$ 953 million and has 43500 employees.. the company has the largest trucking fleet in the waste industry. Together with its competitor Republic Services, Inc, the two handle more than half of all garbage collection in the United States.

I am reminded of a breakfast meeting and an exhibition I attended in feb 2013 at the Freedom Park.
I wrote about it in my blog titled 'A timely wake up call'
...  The Mayor of the city, The commissioner of BBMP, MLA's, many corporators and deeply concerned citizens and members of active organisations were all present at the nashta ( breakfast) and for the deliberations. The task was clear cut, to get Bangalore regain its name as a Garden city and not a garbage city as it is now known world wide! 

 I  hope many initiatives were launched and were followed up and implemented. Regrettably I have not kept track on their progress. However even today there are newspaper reports  about garbage in Bengaluru, hopefully something good will come out of it while you keep your fingers crossed.

Garbage is surely a big business if taken seriously and implemented well. It will make money, save money for the exchequer and Bengaluru will as beautiful as Bangalore was in my child hood days! It will  hopefully stop international media ridiculing us and publishing pictures like below.

But this blog is all about my friend Ramakanth who soldiers on! You call him on cell phone 9341250518 and he will be there.  He takes a bus and even changes buses to arrive at your place. 
I plan to blog separately about his experience and views while you try to look at the bigger global picture.

Ramakanth  says 'volunteers: a large percent  of women' are the source of his success. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is Bangalore is on the brink of disaster. May be it has been that way for a while.

Anil Srivatsa posted it on his FB with a comment: Are you serious? Are you serious! What an idiotic thing to protest about. ROADS WERE DESIGNED AND BUILT FOR VEHICULAR TRAFFIC. This was NEVER MEANT FOR PEDESTRIANS. If you want to then protest to get the footpaths back from garbage dumpers, encroachers and vehicle parking.

Reclaim the Road - Roads belong to people; not cars
(Media Release)

Bangalore, 30 Nov 2014: Over 200 hundred bus commuters, including 90 senior citizens and differently-abled persons, supporters and members of 17 organisations participated in a peaceful walk on the Hebbal Flyover to `RECLAIM THE ROADs'. .....

``On an average, 350 pedestrians every year are killed in road accidents in Bengaluru in the last decade. Most of these deaths are completely avoidable,'' said Manohar Elavarthi of Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

``People are killed as our government wants cars to run at high speed at the cost of pedestrian safety. Huge sums of public money is spent on building flyovers and underpasses to facilitate faster and smooth movement of cars. We can’t cross the railway track under the Hebbal flyover, there is no space for those who walk on the roads, forget about people like us on the wheelchairs,'' said Kiran, a differently-abled activist ....

 Janakiamma of AIKYATHA (Akhila Karnataka Vyayovruddhara Okkoota), senior citizens organisation said: ``Thousands of bus travellers and other pedestrians, particularly senior citizens struggle everyday to cross the railway track under the Hebbal flyover – to catch trains in Hebbal Railway Station or buses from 5 bus stops on ring road/ airport road, or to change from buses between Airport road and ring road. The flyover facilitates smooth railway crossing for cars but for bus travellers there is not even an underpass or an over bridge.''

``Bus travellers risk their lives at this dark-dirty-unsafe-mosquito ridden railway crossing next to a garbage dump. It is particularly difficult for people with disabilities, senior citizens and children to cross this and people on wheel chairs can't cross this railway track,'' said Narayanaswami, a differently-abled person from Samara Society Jayanagar, an NGO that works with sexual minorities.

``Bus travellers need to walk more than 500 meters to change buses between Airport road and ring road. Hebbal is a clear example of using huge public money for small number of car travellers at the cost of a large majority of people - pedestrians and bus travellers,'' said Mallappa Kumar of Praja Rajakiya Vedike......

Is Bangalore is on a brink of disaster? May be it has been like that way for a while. The Vedike is not wrong in what they say, Pedestrians have the least priority in Bengaluru. The auto industry has a huge clout. We hear about garbage mafia or the water mafia. But as auto industry provides jobs for multitudes, so how can we stop them from selling cars in Bengaluru? No way! We do not even think of charging them a premium to enter the inner city. Wonder where is this inner city?

However the protest typically reflects our psyche. Everyone wants everything!

As a pedestrian I want a safe road to cross anywhere I want to. We have been doing it for generations. So how can only the rich get all the privileges I ask? In any case in spite of all their super duper cars which cost a bomb, their average speed around Hebbal is less than the walking speed. Let them take a bus from the Air port and get picked up nearer their home! Safer, good for environment and then we do not need such wide roads. The money spent of getting the cars to this junction could also have been saved. 

We also can have cycle tracks and decent pavements for pedestrians which are also friendly to senior and the differently challenged persons. I think there is already a design available for such all friendly roads.TENDER SURE? If not we can always send our netas to get inspired by going to Singapore. The closest and the cheapest destination to get motivated. Let us not talk of over-bridges or under passes below the roads. Over bridges are not easy to climb. Look at the one near BGC! Tunnels below the road are useless, mostly dirty and often closed as the watchman is on leave. Just go and check the one in Sampige road in Malleswaram.

Then as a two wheeler guy I hate dividers as I have to often make an u-turn. So what is wrong if I remove the stones on the divider and make it convenient for me to turn easily on the main roads. Too bad if another two wheeler guy accidentally hits these stones strewn around after their removal and falls and breaks his bones. Just remember that thousands die because of these damned dividers. These dividers cannot be seen in the night, especially as the opposing vehicles blind us with their headlights. But who can blame them? There are no street lights and the dividers are not seen in the dark. The builders forget to paint them or there is no budget for it. 

And who wants all these crazy rules? One way street for a two wheeler is a joke. I am a skilled driver and can weave in and out of traffic at any speed and in any direction. It is sad that there are deaths on the roads as unskilled drivers try to imitate me. If there is too much traffic, these unskilled drivers are better off driving on the pavements and avoid taking foolish risks. It is sad that so many die. But it is also the fault of the police. Instead of hiding to collect fines, these threesomes (!) could be better used to regulate traffic.

If I own a car, I expect to go at any speed that the car is capable of. After all I have paid road tax for life and want my roads free to satisfy my urge to speed. If I park anywhere and block the roads, is it my fault? Why can't we make roads bigger. How can I visit my friends and relatives after paying so much for the car And then when I come home, I am cramped. So it is okay if I convert my garage to a bed room and park my car on the roads. I need to sleep comfortably don't I? Or I may drive badly and be a bigger danger on the road. Anyway I am allowed to build as I damn well please thanks to Akrama/ sakrama.

In any case I leave enough space for a a good driver to navigate. If you are not skilled or a nervous senior, don't drive. Stay at home. There are enough channels on TV to keep you occupied. Also is it my fault that the fellow driving towards you comes in without thinking and creates a traffic jam? That too in spite of my loud continuous honking? But why do people complain about this honking of mine. I just give a wake up call for all those sleepy Bangaloreans. Good for them.

Need I go on and talk about the taxis, commercial vans, our famous autos, the buses and the lorries.
We have this in our genes, filling a narrow necked bottle to the maximum extent possible and then struggle to take it out. In any case true to our nature, let us wait for the city to get into one mammoth traffic jam for us to wake up and do something. I read that traffic jams happen even in China and they ages ahead of us.

Do you want me to make a dire prediction? I laughed when I read some senior bureaucrat wanted us build our houses on stilts. I always thought there was a rule that every high raise building should have a car park.
Probably there is a rule, which of course is flouted.

But it may soon come to pass. Every house will be made to go on stilts. So that the ground floor is for parking. We will be asked to break the compound wall, rooms on the ground floor to accommodate the many cars we buy. It is the only way we can keep making cars and selling them to the car hungry populace and also allow them to drive them as well!

Anil this was inspired by your FB insert and after I saw a lunatic drive so fast and continuously honking on your railway parallel road unmindful of the morning walkers and possibility that some were still sleeping. Mind you it is supposed to be a residential area. But there is no such thing anymore in the city.