I had the privilege of attending what was termed as a 'Power Nashta' session of 'opinion makers' yesterday morning at the "Wake up, Clean up Bengaluru" week-long workshop, currently in progress at the Freedom Park (the facebook wall of the workshop may be accessed here). Quite a few known names from the Corporate circles were there (including Mr Dar, ITC's local big chief, a name that should ring a bell for Prajagalu; incidentally, ITC is into recycling in a big way), apart from the likes of Almitra Patel (amongst the best known names in the country in the field of Solid Waste Management). The overall theme was on how each of the various stakeholder groups, whether from the industry or Civil Society circles, could come together to lend support to BBMP's waste management programmes.
This was apparently the second of such 'power nashta's'. The New Indian Express report on the first, may be accessed here.
Following the meet, we were conducted around the exhibits, amongst which was a replica of a garbage dump, through which the visitor is made to pass, to sensitise him to the actual conditions in (say) Mandur (which, of course, are far worse). The NIE report, accessible here, carries a picture of the same.
The few take-aways that I made a mental note of, from the session, are:
1) Almitra Patel stated that most direct Waste-to-Energy practices adopted by the developed countries are of no use to us, since the composition of our waste is a lot different from theirs, ours being a lot wetter. Besides, many of these use incineration, where the energy input has necessarily to be higher than the energy output, despite all claims to the contrary. This apart, the dioxin emission is a serious hazard in these plants, including the ones adopting the so-called plasma technology. As such, while these plants are being gradually phased out in the advanced countries, some intrepid salesmen are trying to palm of these to us. So, there is no getting away from segregation of waste.
2) A restauranteer (Upupi Krishna Bhavan, Malleswaram, if I got it right) said that he generates close to 300 kg of waste a day, all of which he organises to dispose of himself, without burdening the BBMP. The wet waste goes to a piggery, and the entire dry waste is segregated and sold to kabadi-wallahs.
3) Mr Naresh Narasimhan, the renowned architect, talked about how dust from construction sites was a major source of pollution in the city, and had we had climatic conditions similar to Beijing or Los Angeles, we would also have had to go around wearing masks all the time. Towards ameliorating the situation, he suggested that no in-situ preparation of concrete be allowed within the inner city limits, and these limits be progressively extended. This will simultaneously obviate the need for storing construction material on the road-sides in front of sites. The above apart, he stated that development activities can be carried out in such way as to use all the debris generated in the process at the site itself, with very little having to be taken out, if at all. In fact, he had convinced one of his clients on this aspect, and in a large project being launched soon, this is going to be listed as one of the major environment-friendly features.
4) A participant pointed out that Namma Metro was perhaps a major contributor to the dust pollution with their works encompassing the entire city. Naresh however pointed out that since Metro was using pre-fabricated components largely, that cannot quite be the case.
5) Dr Trilokchandra, Addl (or, is it joint?) Commissioner, BBMP, stated that when utilities dig up roads to lay their lines, the restoration work is done shabbily, contributing largely to the dust problem.
6) I talked about the success story of near 100% segregation and wet-waste composting thereof (using 'rolypig'), at our apartment complex in Koramangala (a 9 minute TV-9 news-report may be accessed here), which could perhaps be a model for all apartment complexes in the city.
Quite as Ms Kalpana Kar, one of the chief organisers of the workshop, pointed out - it's time the citizens joined in to help BBMP to get the city's overall act together.