Monday, February 17, 2014

Metro, Garbage & The City!

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare… Japanese proverb.

The above proverb tells us why Japan is not only most advanced country but one of the best living places in the world! As usual recent headlines in newspapers were reminding me the above proverb, as on one side our rulers are happy for showing us dreams of growth by giving us Metro. Which they think is like a magic wand to solve all problems of the traffic of this very city & at the same time every front page is carrying photographs of loads of garbage all along the roads as Phursungi villagers has stopped the garbage depot work. For those who don’t know the back ground our beloved Pune city’s garbage which is supposed to be nearly 1600 tons daily, is dumped or processed at garbage depot which is located near Phursungi village on east of Pune. The villagers are agitated by the nuisance of the garbage treatment as well the traffic of trucks carrying this garbage to the depot enroute their village all around the clock. Also the so called processing plant Hanjer isn’t operating at its fullest capacity & unable to treat all the garbage which comes to the depot. This causes many issues , mainly air & ground water pollution & then frequent garbage fires due to toxic gasses generated by dumped excess garbage thus causing too much of nascence to the residents around. These are few of the issues raised repeatedly by the Phursungi residents & in last few years many a times they have stopped works of the garbage depot by not allowing trucks to download the garbage thus causing tones of garbage laying all across the city. This garbage in the city also many times causes fire or the people around to get rid of the odor & its spread, burn up the garbage bins, result is same, more air pollution in the city!

Every time when there is such "bandh" at the garbage depot, all civic administration as well the leaders , political parties rush to that village, rounds of discussion happens , some promises are made & the protest is taken back for a while & again after few months the same story repeats! I wonder are we really running a system here or is this any game of match fixing type drama goes on? As if we have promised something to those villagers why we don’t fulfill the same & if still the villagers are causing trouble without any reason why strict legal action with police force is not being taken against them, as every time it’s the entire city which is held at stake!

Then in all this chaos every political party tries to show how concerned they are with the garbage issue & makes protest against civic administration & then some senior leader acts as a mediator with the villagers & their protests gets stopped for a while & again the garbage trucks starts moving garbage out of the city & same routine keeps on following! Try to remember how many times this drama we have witnessed in last many years but yet we haven’t come up with concrete solution. Now this time the whole city has witnessed heaps of garbage all around & smoke clad roads by burning of this garbage & in addition to that people were still dumping their garbage in that burning heaps!
We have NOC of vermicomposting for the new buildings to treat wet i.e. perishables i.e. organic waste & it’s being applicable for all the new buildings coming up since last five years at least! Has somebody ever taken efforts that how many such projects are really doing vermicomposting of their wet garbage & if not what action has been take against them? We have 5% property tax rebate also for such projects for the residents but those who can pay nearly Rs 50 lacs & above to buy a flat hardly cares for this 5% rebate in property tax as in actual it comes not even Rs50/month. What we need is good rewards for taking care of their own garbage & equally harsh punishments for not taking care of the same. But here is the major problem, civic administration is not ready to accept any decrease in their revenues so they always opposes for any reward scheme for the citizen as they feel it directly affects their yearly collections of revenues. And on other hand politicians always oppose any punishments to the citizen for not following civic norms like their own garbage treatments as they thinks it will affect their vote banks! So in this tussle nobody cares for strict implementation of the policy regarding managing garbage & then we face the situation which we are facing today i.e. at the mercy of Phursungi villagers!

Then another joke is collection of wet garbage by PMC itself; even from the buildings’ which has provision of vermicomposting, from them also wet garbage is collected. If it is so then who will care to treat their own garbage when it’s taken care at free of cost & if it is not sufficicant, then the residents don’t even bother to segregate even wet & dry garbage also, as that’s being done by the labors on these carriers! The garbage scene is much worse outside of the PMC limit & the city is yet growing! As the boundaries like Collector limit or PMC limit are for administration & not for the people, all they need is someone should take care of their garbage! Years came & went & we haven’t wise enough to see beyond Phursungi or come up with a policy which will be capable enough to take care of our own city’s garbage! There are locations identified for new garbage depots but not yet acquired, god knows why. And even if we create more dumping places then what? Today it’s only Phursungi villagers, tomorrow there will be these new location’s neighbors who will held the city at ransom, as only making new dumping yards isn’t going to solve the garbage issue. But restricting its generation as well treating it at local level is what going to make the difference. Why can’t there be mini plants at ward level by which even the carrying time will be reduced for the garbage, thus reducing fuel costs as well spread of less foul gasses all along the city roads? For this the amenity spaces which the PMC as well Collectorate have acquired can be thought off. Apply latest technology to treat wet garbage at local level & segregate dry garbage which can be treated at the depot with much ease & without causing disturbance to the nearby residents is the solution. All we need is vision & the action, but that it-self seems to be lost!

And on this background we are dreaming for Metro & the four times FSI for all along the track of Metro. If it’s going to be a reality then that makes nearly 32 sq km of belt with thickest ever population in it! Already a lot of debate going on about it & I am no expert on its viability or its use for traffic problem reduction but just on the scale of garbage generation what precaution or arrangement we have planned on this front? As it will be like a thickly populated new city in making within this very city & if we can’t manage garbage of the existing city what about the add-on load? While issuing this huge FSI, the planning for all such problematic fronts which in a way will be byproduct of Metro, needs to be taken in consideration & proper steps for taking care of them has to be taken right now or else Metro may or may not come in existence but the 4 FSI will surely be given & so will come in existence thousands of tons of garbage with no place for it!  

A city does not prosper with only dreams like Metro or BRT or Flyovers but with the entire living conditions around. At the same time it’s not only responsibility of some civic body to provide those living condition, it’s equally of the residents of the city also. As a developer also we should not shrug our shoulders & leave the issue to these two segments but try to implement better techniques in the projects itself for garbage treatment by giving wet garbage treatment plants as amenity for the projects. At the same time it’s equally important to see that such plants are being made in use & not just for our advertise purpose to sale the flats!  Finally garbage is product of the entire society & not some individual, so we need to have a vision for the same & then act up on it fast, being responsible for the same & united or else the city will keep having new buildings along with the Metro but nothing else will change!  And that will be the real nightmare which will be outcome of our own acts without vision!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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