Pune is one of the SMART cities and is still facing the challenges of managing waste in the city. I think its time we start taking management lessons from sustainable initiatives undertaken by small towns in making waste management a miracle. One such story is about a small town named Vengurla around 400 km from Pune under the leadership of Mr. Ramdas Kokare.
Mr. Ramdas Kokare the former Chief Municipal Officer of Vengurla (now posted at Karjat) believes that apart from waste segregation at source, public participation is equally important for the city to be clean. Vengurla is a small town having around 12,400 people and generating almost 7 tonnes of wastes daily. 100% of the wastes is segregated into three different categories at the source like the wet, dry and hazardous. The wet waste is used for biogas generation producing electricity that powers machines used in the waste management facility. The dry waste is further segregated into 19 different types based on its reuse. All the nonrecyclable plastic is shredded, mixed with bitumen and used in road building making the roads more stronger. It was Mr. Kokare who implemented this in the town and transformed the waste landfill into waste management park. His management strategy simply involved taking rounds around the city just before coming to the office and while returning home, in order to see if the city is clean. He also motivated his subordinates to do the same! He and his subordinates personally talked with a certain number of people daily to educate them about the importance of waste segregation.
Pune being an urban area having educated and active citizens is still struggling with segregation of wastes at the source into just wet and dry. Disposal of all the wastes is another issue completely. Our landfill sites are overused and people staying around the sites have to cope up with the nuisance. I cannot understand where does the problem lie? Are we not taking the Swach Bharat mission seriously?
|Mixed waste segregation|
But then I feel people's participation is missing? Can the responsible citizens among us take inspiration from Mr. Kokare? Can we educate each other about the importance of cleanliness in our surroundings in order to ensure a disease free locality? Can we advocate for segregation if we see someone not segregating the waste? Can we cooperate or coordinate with our local officers to ensure that our areas are clean? Can we ensure segregation of wastes into wet and dry and keep our sanitary wastes separately to ensure the hygiene of the waste collectors and processors?Segregation is a crucial first step. As Mr. Kokare says, mixed waste is a nuisance but segregated waste is a wealth.