Rubbish! BMC's trucks are too small for Mumbai's dry waste

Updated: Dec 25, 2018, 15:37 IST | Arita Sarkar

Expensive trucks, bought at Rs 20 lakh apiece, do not have compartments big enough to take in all the dry waste generated; city's garbage collection down by 50 per cent as a result

Due to the small chamber for dry waste, contractors can only pick up half of their daily target
Due to the small chamber for dry waste, contractors can only pick up half of their daily target

Trust the BMC to do rubbish work even when it comes to garbage collection. For the last month-and-a-half, contractors have only been able to pick up 50 per cent of their daily target for dry waste. This is thanks to civic officials who approved a new design for garbage compactors, without realising that the dry waste compartment in the vehicles is far too small.

Not only have contractors already shelled out lakhs to buy 600 new garbage compactors as per the flawed design specifications, they might also incur further losses on modifying the vehicles if the BMC changes the specifications.

Vijay Singhal, additional municipal commissioner of the eastern suburbs, who is in charge of solid waste management, said, "We will review the situation and take required measures to ensure that all the dry waste is collected properly."

The BMC might now use the e-waste chamber in dumpers to accommodate dry waste as well
The BMC might now use the e-waste chamber in dumpers to accommodate dry waste as well

New design
In order to collect segregated waste, the new garbage compactors have a main chamber for wet waste in the rear end, and two smaller chambers for e-waste and dry waste on either side of the truck.

According to an official from the solid waste management (SWM) department, they recently appointed 14 contractors for the task of garbage collection, and approved the new compactor design two months ago. "One of the contractors had submitted this design, and once it was approved, the same design was taken up by other contractors since there are few manufacturers who make these compactors," said the official.

Currently, 400 compactors purchased by 10 contractors have been in operation across the city, while 200 more purchased by the remaining four contractors will arrive soon. There are two varieties of these compactors. The smaller one that accommodates 2.5 metric tonnes of waste costs around Rs 20 lakh each, while the larger compactor, with a capacity of 6 metric tonnes, costs around Rs 30 lakh each.

What a waste
It was only after the vehicles were bought and put into operation that civic officials observed that the quantity of dry waste collection had dropped by half. They realised that the dry waste chamber was far too small, especially considering that dry waste takes up more space.

"We had anticipated that each of the compactors would collect around 400 kg of dry waste on a daily basis. However, the current daily average of each truck is around 100-200 kg. These are part of the teething troubles, and we are now trying to modify the design to ensure that the compactors can accommodate more waste," said an SWM official. For now, the official added, one of the options is to co-opt the e-waste chamber for this purpose, as the quantity of e-waste is much less.

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