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An alternate way of looking at solutions for SWM

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Public Health



slightly long post ..excuse me!


This is not to be read as an opposition to a segregation or an adverse criticism to those doing SWM work within society and through courts( though it will definitely look like it).More so an examination whether some course corrections are required to  the current thinking on solution to the problem. 

I had the opportunity to meet some folks involved in SWM efforts, away from the glare of courts and PIls.Some of their work; views etc. are highlighted in the links given at the end of this mail. I had the chance to cross examine them (quite severely).

These guys are not the court recognised experts, and therefore unfortunately become an alternate theory and practise, and easily dismissed.

Must say they stood up to the interrogation very well, and left me very impressed with their work in terms of dedication and more importantly, data based scientific approach.

Young folks with lots and lots of energy and great minds.

Did this because i have had a nagging feeling, that the current approach (by the experts committee that is empowered by the courts) has missed some crucial aspects.

For those who don't want to wade through the web pages (attached at the end of this mail), given below some of the aspects which appealed to me in their work.

A) Waste characteristics

Bangalore has had no real “waste characteristic' study. (Waste characteristic is a study to simply establish what are the constituents of Bangalore waste  ...Perhaps areas /geography wise).

This is a base requirement; because it is with this data that one can scientifically decide what to do with the waste, how to process it and even how to collect it.

The BBMP has some old data which happens to be a result of only secondary study. There is no other way to get characteristic except the "dirty way" of actually examining first-hand the waste.

The group had done this for a few areas and the results are eye opening, from the context of indicating that perhaps current methods/methodology of waste treatment need to be revisited.


b) The collection issue: 

The current collection method which assumes segregated waste and that all generators will in fact handover to the collectors seem to be flawed.

There is a whole bunch of situations and waste items which are not considered which eventually means pile up off waste on streets, storm water drains and other places.

Just as a few examples...tree trimmings, BBMP drains cleared muck are without systems for clearing.

So too waste from meat shops, poultry etc. (by and large)

Further dry waste centres do not know what to do with half the waste, and perhaps they end up dumped in some corner. 

Net net, the origin and destination of some of these unaccounted for waste, is open ended.


c) Segregation itself 

Perhaps the centrepiece of current "policy" is based exclusively on segregation.
Studies seem to indicate that at best segregation can happen for a fraction of population /waste...

A system or solution essentially based on 100% segregation has to therefore fail.

The problem here is, positions have been taken, and worse, courts have been told that segregation is the ultimate/only solution. Thereby all efforts /court monitoring is going into this direction, which itself seems dubious as the catch all solution.

(Sure segregate. Nothing wrong with that...but without a solution for the larger non segregated portion. Problem not solved.)


d) A health issue...ragpickers

There seems to be currently a "socialistic" outlook at any kind of mechanisation, different methods of waste disposal and handling will render a large number of erstwhile rag pickers, without a livelihood. It seems ok as an argument until one sees the conditions that rag pickers have to endure.

--Firstly since the segregation method has failed /has not delivered, u have a unhappy situation of rag pickers going through unsegregated waste in a very very unhygienic manner to  fulfil their so called livelihood.

---It is a convenient way for the relatively 'upper crusts of society to let others proverbially clean their dirt and turn a blind eye to their health and long term prospects.

--propagating a rag picker kind of waste handling in the current scenario is really no different from promoting human scavenging. (Extreme opinion, i know  ...but think about it)

---With a resistance to mechanised waste handling, the situation does not seem likely to improve.

(With mechanised handling there could be a role for rag pickers in a dignified upgrade of their jobs,)

--While strictly not a function of SWM, there does not seem to be any effort in trying to rehabilitate the rag picker community.

e) Waste to energy

There seems to be an unreasonable and non-data based opposition to any effort to convert waste to energy (WTE) by the current crop of experts... so much so even experimentation in this area is resisted. Don’t know why, but it could be because off the already committed stance in society and courts, that segregation is the only solution.

f) Landfills

I might be wrong (and i have not seen or heard to the contrary), the conditions at landfills does not seem to have changed. Maybe there is dumping at different landfills, but the severe health risks of those around the landfills seem to be the same.

I would have thought that the first priority was to render these people and villages habitable.




read on the links please



Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Vision Statement on Solid Waste Management presented to MCC

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@vmenon - and other Prajas may like to revisit this Paper presented by the undersigned, as Member of JnNURM Committee on Solid Waste Management of Mysore City Corporation - at this link:

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Sorry, if the link is not opening - try the following...

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In praja Home page search window, type 'Vision Statement 2013 on Solid Waste Management MCC' and get to the page.


vmenon's picture

Vision Statement 2013 on Solid Waste Management MCC'

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yup , got that document.


Will go thro,,and also socilaise this on other platforms.The real issue being that discussions .decisions, even thpoughts for SWM are not in public domain.

it is manily a behind the scenes activity., driven by a chosen few.


Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

MCC initiatives

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SW management has been decentralised - waste collected at zone levels by PKs are being taken to sheds built for segregation, composting and further processing. Most of the giant secondary rusted iron bins have been removed from the street corners (those who cannot hand over waste to PKs, are still dumping waste at these places but the mechanised trucks are clearing them). 

As pointed out in the Vision Statement, MCC has considered the cost of transportation and its futility and is looking at ways for setting up ward level SWM system.  It has also found it economical to adopt this method for saving its revenues from long haul and consequenses of dumping, burning and destroying the environment of rural areas.

MCC has acquired red and green plastic bins to be supplied to citizens to help them segregate, give the green bin daily to PKs and Red bin once a week.  Working of this method is yet to be assessed since not all the families been supplied with bins in all wards.

With the help of latest tech innovations, plans are afoot to set up plants that produce methane from wet waste and supply the same to the nearest users like hotels, hostels, hospitals, etc, either through pipes or by setting up a bottling plant for replacing costly/subsidized LPG and save the country from outgo of precious foreign exchange.  DPRs/PPPs are at various stages of consideration.  

I have also suggested to MCC to equip MCC health staff with digital/video cameras (on the lines of police capturing traffic violators / law breakers on camera and taking action with proof) so that they can take photos of people dumping waste in plastic bags at street corners, identify their homes and issue challans or collect fines or to make them take by the plastic cover, segregate and hand over the same to PKs.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

Sanjeev's picture

Even if we tackel major wet waster and dry waste,

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Like major things :

1. Simple thing, Tender coconuts  thrown every where, should be collected and processed for compost. 

2. As Bangalore is garden city,  hardly its matched by dry waste collection centers capacity and number.

3. Collect all waste from Hotels, Canteens Juice Centers as wet waste and process it

Above things should generate huge Compost for City Corporation which will be major revenue to offset their cost of wet garbage processing.

4. Increase more dry waste collection center in every major places,  so that this plastic collection becomes easy.

5. Ensure that every  Wedding Halls, Clubs, Commercial Complexes seggregate the waste at source and ensure that these are processed properly.

6. Provide proper waste seggregation facility for big apartments by joning hands with BBMP  at nominal cost.

7. Increase more centers for collecting hazardous waste like CFL lamps, Battery,  Thermocoals, waste engine oils,  discarded  Hardware

8. Provide more garbage collection bins for Wet Waste and Dry waste in every street.

Sanjeev's picture

Will Bangalore ever be garbage-free?

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With Bangalore’s population nearing 10 million, solid waste management (SWM) remains an intractable problem.

M.A. Siraj

Dealing with Bangalore’s garbage has been a Herculean task for the government, with contractors, bureaucrats and corporators yet to consider scientific disposal instead of the present trucking arrangements. “Kasa-muktha Bengaluru” launched last year seems to be a distant dream.

It was not very long ago that Bangalore’s sobriquet i.e., ‘Garden City’ nearly came to be replaced with ‘Garbage City’ in the wake of villagers’ refusal to allow garbage trucks to dump the city’s refuse into the nearby landfills. Mounting garbage piles attracted international media’s attention and business honchos began to apprehend serious damage to the city’s reputation as the capital of modern Indian economy.

With the city’s population nearing 10 million, solid waste management (SWM) remains an intractable problem. The city’s per capita solid waste generation is estimated to be around half-a- kilogram. Going by this, the city generates around 5,000 tonnes of garbage every day. The BBMP employs around 14,000 pourakarmikas (or safai karamcharis) to tackle it.

Distant dream

With around 9,000 persons working with the private garbage contractors, the number of workers goes up to around 24,000. Despite considerable advance in collecting and segregating waste at source, nearly 20 per cent of the waste still remains to be picked or is picked irregularly, giving the city a grumpy look. Several households still dump it on empty sites or into gutters which in turn get clogged during rains and cause flooding. In short, Kasa muktha Bengaluru (garbage-free Bangalore) scheme launched on July 24 last year by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah still seems to be a distant dream.

Waste generation has a direct relationship with prosperity level. Greater prosperity boosts consumption and leads to households discarding more items. Nearly 485 items are cast out by households in a city which include kitchen waste, construction debris, food leftovers, cells, diapers, automobile parts, bulbs, mercury tubes, syringes, polyvinyl coverings, tyres, cardboard packaging, broken furniture, bandages, egg shells, plastic bags, clothes, all kinds of metal, bottles, glass items, chipped porcelain, and sanitary ware.

BATF agenda in force

It is more than a decade since new laws were brought in with regard to collection of waste in Bangalore. Under the recommendation of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), door-to-door collection of waste was introduced. (Earlier, street-end waste bins were the norm.)

Secondly, the BBMP introduced segregation of garbage at source by providing four different bins placed over a cart to each waste collector. Two of them were meant for dry waste while another two were to collect wet waste. The collectors are provided uniform, gloves, and masks. The gloves and mask are rarely seen to be used. Several workers find it impractical for continuous use. They are recommended to undergo health check-ups every month. Usually, waste collection is a family occupation. Besides both spouses, even children join the workers soon enough to keep the occupation going in the family.

Practical realities

A huge number of issues come into the picture and lead to the mechanism working ineffectively. To begin with, a worker is supposed to sweep 3/4 of a km of road every morning and collect garbage from two rows of houses, which account for roughly 120 households. The cart is capable of carrying about 100 to 150 kg. of waste. But practically things do not work out that way.

Since zoning regulations have been violated in 80 per cent of cases, the number of houses on the stretch has risen to 300 and above on an average. Consequently, he or she approaches just about 60 per cent of the houses and ignores those who are late-risers or not found at the doorsteps when the cart makes its passage.

Secondly, the dry and wet waste do not come in the same proportion as to fill the designated drums the cart carries. Hence, the segregation at source leaves much to be desired.

Thirdly, during festivals or the mango season, the amount of garbage per household goes up twofold and all that discarded does not neatly fit into the drums meant to carry them to the dumpsters.

Fourth, the loading point has spillovers which render those stretches of the streets untidy.

Fifth, the segregated trash gets mixed up while loading on to the trucks headed for the landfills, thereby rendering the segregation scheme inconsequential. However, 154 Dry Waste Centres set up by the BBMP do receive some such waste for being sent to the recycling units. These are large pieces of recyclable waste that truck loaders separate out while the trucks are on the move.

Cash-rich resource

It is pointed out that the waste generated by the cities today is not all trash. “It is not waste at all, it is a resource” quips a BBMP official who refuses to be identified. It is pointed out that several firms are interested in lifting the waste and recycling them to extract glass, metals, paper etc., at their own cost and even pay the BBMP some money. But the contractors’ and truckers’ lobby has such a stranglehold with powerful sinews inside the system that no proposals to this effect can afford to turn into schemes.

Significantly, nearly 500 trucks are employed daily to carry trash to the landfills. A senior member of the Expert Panel on SWM says: “There is an almost unbreakable nexus between corporators, officials and garbage contractors who do not want segregation at source and biomethanisation of the waste at ward level. They profit from trucks ferrying the garbage. The benefit increases in direct proportion to the distance a truck travels.”

Some progress

Under the Union Urban Development Ministry’s directives, the BBMP has taken several initiatives on its own to reduce, reuse and recycle the waste. Proposals from companies such as Terra Firma and Maltose to collect wet and green waste to turn it into manure are being considered. Similarly, there is possibility of coconut and sugarcane waste being turned into fuel pellets. A plant to convert the waste plastic into granules is also coming up.

These could be used by mixing eight per cent of weight with bitumen for relaying of roads. Hotel waste can be converted into biogas and can be resupplied to the same hotels from where it originates. However this would require rebate or waiving of sales tax on gas produced this way from the State Government.

The BBMP is also empanelling vendors for waste collection from bulk generators such as big housing complexes and firms. The possibility of turning feathers from birds and poultry markets into shuttlecocks and hair from the beauty salons into saleable tresses for wigs is also being explored.

The BBMP has so far commissioned two bio-methanisation plants and another eight to 10 are being installed. It had tendered for 16 such plants. Each of them can turn five tonnes of garbage into methane a day.

M.S. Ramakant, who advises the BBMP on solid waste management, says incineration of the garbage is not the solution. “We have studied the problem. The livelihood of nearly 25,000 rag-pickers is linked with the recycling of the waste in the city. Their interest should not be overlooked. Moreover, incineration will pollute the environment irretrievably. The whole garbage disposal system needs to be decentralised in the BBMP area and turning it into useful gas at the ward level will not only be a viable alternative but a profitable way to do it,” he remarked.

But the pace of things is pathetically slow and atrocious oversight of the problem in the past is showing itself up in ubiquitous garbage dumped at every conceivable empty site. In the eyes of the experts, the malady lies not in deficient technology but in management.

Article points out very clearly on Coconut, Sugarcane, Hotel, Big Complexes, Barbers, Poultry feathers if  they are tackeled at source,  issue of Garbage in Bangalore will come down drastically n evry ward.




Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

DPRs pending in MCC for Wet/Bio wastes & mini methane plants

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JnNURM Committee on Vision Statement 2020 for SWM in Mysore presented by me to a full house of MCC in July 2010 led to formation of a sub-committee for finalising plans (apart from decentralised handling of waste at zonal/ward level to save transportation cost, since taken up),  that are doable, economical without intervention of nano-technology or millions for a sustainable public health solution on waste management.  I coordinated consultations, met Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) of NIE, Mysore along with JnNURM Supdt.Engr and 3 Environ Engineers of Mcc, visited worst possible waste dumping areas including cow dung at street corners, identified Govt. institutions that require cooking gas, manure etc. 

This led to two DPRs - one for the Deaf and Dumb School hostel in city center that houses about 200 disabled persons and requires every two days 2 cylinders and another Home for Girls (about 300 inmates) that requires 1 cylinder every day. These were taken up as pilot projects, DPRs for meeting the cooking gas needs with identified waste input from the hostels and from areas (cow dung, wet waste and bio-waste for Deaf & Dumb Hostel and from Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel for Girls Home) and technology from NIE/CREST a turn key basis are with the concerned Govt.Department.  Similarly, KR Market veg and other wet waste have been proposed to be utilised for methane gas production and for vacating the gas thus produced in nearby KR Hospital kitchen, hostels etc. Still under consideration!

Another suggestion to conduct Corporate tye of convention of House Maids - either at zonal or ward level, with quiz / prizes (a back pack, note books, ballpens, a small video game gadget, a mirror, a comb etc., to be funded with PPP), lunch, PPTs on health hazards/hands on training and pep talk by officials, is under consideration.

Rag pickers were told to register their names at ward level for identification purpose and also equipping them with necessary infrastructure and also for some kind of group-insurance to help them.  

For plastic/thermocol disposal, suggestions have been made to involve school children to bring 10 waste plastic from their homes one day in a week and leave it in some identified corner in their schools - schools to contact the local municipal admn authorities to come and pick it up for further disposal or in turn, schools may sell and use the money for helping poor students etc.

The Municipal authorities in turn may use the plastic for laying plastic coated bitumen roads (Bangalore has already experimented this successfully) that last longer than normal road laying method.

Bio-waste is burnt at street corners by PKs that creates allergic conditions nd is a serious health hazard. But this waste is valuable and it has been suggested that instead of burning and to save transport on long hauls to dumping yards, ward level arrangement may be made to create self- employment and converting the bio-waste into bio-chars (fuel bricks by simple method of using a binding medium like cow dung, saw dust etc., similar to moulded bricks) by using solar heat.

If these doable, economical and sustainable solutions are sincerely implemented with integrity and ingenuity, waste management will not be an insurmountable problem as is being made out now. We are having trouble due to lack of political will, nexus between corporators, contractors and vendors of various contracts.  Residents must cleverly kill this syndrome by being proactive through reduction in waste generation, proper segregation and adopting simple methods at homes for converting waste into manure for use in pots or for growing vegetables in available space or large pots. comment guidelines

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