This is the second article in a series of articles about City Priorities. If you haven’t read, please go through City Priority 1: Affordable Housing.
The main question that we are exploring is
“What does the BJP government need to prioritize in Ahmedabad for this term?”
We are going to focus on one priority at a time. The sequence of the priorities is chosen at random and do not indicate a preference within the priorities.
City Priority 2: Waste Management
Rapid urbanization will always create issues unless complimentary systems also don’t scale and improve at the same speed. Waste management is one such big system that needs to evolve to be become more effective as and when the size of the city’s population grows.
Ahmedabad doesn’t do a very good job of managing waste right now. This can be noticed if you have ever even passed by the mountain of garbage near Pirana. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation workers collect more than 4700 metric tons of garbage every single day!
The problem of waste management is complex. The problem starts when citizens don’t use the waste baskets and throw the garbage on the streets. The second problem is when over 95% of the citizens don’t segregate their waste. The third problem is irregular collection of waste from small waste sites which in turn become breeding ground for diseases. The fourth problem is what happens to the garbage once it is collected.
Interventions are needed at all these levels. Government needs to lead by example for most of these. All government buildings should be as clean as possible. They should have dustbins everywhere and they should have an efficient waste segregation process. There should be fines which should be strictly levied on anyone who dirties the premises by choice. Once government buildings are covered, this should be enforced across all schools and colleges, hospitals, malls, theaters, and slowly go all the way down to individual houses.
Government should ensure that there are sufficient number of big garbage bins in each area. These bins should have bin sensors so that collection trucks can make an informed decision about which bins they need to attend to first. AMC can use this data to inform their decisions about number of bins required and the route of the garbage collection trucks.
The quality of the garbage trucks is also extremely important. They cannot be leaking or overflowing when they are on their way to the dumping ground. There should be more than one area where the government trucks takes the garbage. It would ensure that the garbage trucks go to the nearest possible place instead of having to take garbage from all ends of the city to one location.
These dumping grounds should be places where the waste should be segregated and sent to recycling units if possible. If the government handles segregation and recycling, it would be easier for it to provide safety equipment for the workers doing this. If there are private companies who are interested in handling this, the task can be delegated as well. Government can in that case just have oversight over the process to ensure safety of workers.
Government has to learn from the countries/cities which do this best. Germany, Austria, Sweden, and other countries have gotten good at doing this.
Ahmedabad is currently of manageable size but that won’t be the case in the coming five years. If Ahmedabad truly wants to be a #SmartCity, it has to first get the basics right. A clean city is a basic human right and the government has to take all the steps necessary to ensure this right. The time to act is now!