Mounds of debris lying on a street in the city
Even as the BMC kick-started a cleanliness drive earlier this month, collecting over 5,500 tonnes of garbage, it has yet to figure out how to get rid of the debris that it has amassed.
The drive had been launched on the instructions of CM Eknath Shinde on September 1. According to BMC authorities, 5,786 tonnes of garbage was collected in the last three weeks, which included 4,183 metric tonnes of debris, which is basically waste procured from construction sites. This also means that more than 72 per cent of the unattended garbage was debris.
As per rules of the solid waste management, construction debris is not part of dry or wet waste, which is segregated and treated by the municipal body. In order to deal with the growing problem of debris lying around the city's streets, the BMC had, some years ago, started a service to lift debris at a nominal cost. However, it has not figured how to get rid of it yet, which has become a cause for concern among residents.
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"The BMC has to offer practical solutions," said Jitendra Gupta, an activist from Kurla. "If we call the BMC to lift the debris, they tell us that they won't do so, if it's inside a private property. And if someone dumps debris on the roads, the BMC fines them," he added. Anil Galgali, an activist, said that one of the major problems is that the BMC SWM department is understaffed. "If all garbage is picked up three times a day, no garbage will be seen on the streets," he said, "But for that we need people to work round the clock."
Trivankumar Karnani, founder of citizen's forum, Mumbai North Central District Forum (MNCDF), said that the debris problem is most visible near the slum pockets. "There's an urgent need to deal with this through strict law enforcement and without political interference," he said. Sudhakar Shinde, additional municipal commissioner of the BMC, said, "We are looking for a solution. I have told my team to study the practices being followed by other cities."
Meanwhile, sources said that the BMC is likely to start debris processing units next year. The BMC has given work orders to construct two plants for processing 1,200 tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste. These plants will process debris and manufacture precast products. The units may be operational by March 2024. One plant will be set up in Gorai for the western suburbs and another at Shilphata, Thane for the south city and eastern suburbs.