About 78% Delhiites dump garbage on the roadside or in open plots in their neighbourhoods and 17% claim to have no access to a community dump or dhalao in north Delhi, a survey co-researched by Chintan, the Delhi environment department and German NGO GIZ has revealed.
The report, Making Delhi Swachh: Participatory Solid Waste Management Policy for Delhi, has taken feedback from over 3,000 residents across the east, south, north and New Delhi municipal territories starting from 2013.
“Nearly 76% Delhiites wrongly believe that glass and metal are biodegradable (97% in East Delhi). In other words, people need a lot more education on this. Only 44% of respondents pay for doorstep waste collection. For virtually every household (99%), waste is collected at least twice weekly. These were some of the shocking discoveries of the report,” Chitra Mukherjee of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group said.
Of the total garbage generated in the city, about 9,100 metric tonnes, 50% is fit for composting and 30% is recyclable. Only 20% should reach the landfills. After sending 4,500 tonnes to waste-to-energy plant for incineration and 850 metric tonnes for composting, at least 3,800 tonnes makes its way to the city’s already exhausted dump sites in Narela-Bawana, Bhalaswa, Okhla and Ghazipur.
According to the NGO, the findings of the report throws new light and a fresh perspective on what people in Delhi think about waste. However, numbers in hand, the authors argue that the stereotype that depicts residents as among the worst behaved in matters of waste in the country is groundless in most respects.
Over 96% of Delhi residents segregate to sell waste to kabariwalas while 86% of residents (99% in New Delhi, 95% in East Delhi) welcome separate storage and collection systems for dry and wet waste, even if they do not do this themselves as of now.
“Nearly 74% (over 90% in East Delhi Municipal Corporation and New Delhi Municipal Council) are ready to start segregation and may need a stronger nudge. While 90% of respondents believe that Delhi should urgently reduce the amount of waste it generates, over 70% (over 95% in East Delhi Municipal Corporation) believe (at least in theory) reusing is better than buying.
“81% of the respondents (above 90% for worse-off residents) say they can live without plastic bags. 87% declared that someone already collects their waste from their house while 98% of respondents think that waste pickers and kabariwalas recycle most of the municipal solid waste generated in the Capital,” the report says.
Things can drastically change on the ground once the Solid & Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, notified in April last year, are enforced. The new bylaws sought to enforce collection and segregation of garbage at source, developing local segregation points, integration of informal sectors for segregation of waste and proper disposal.
The rules make it mandatory for waste generators to segregate garbage into three streams. They need to separate wet (biodegradable), dry (plastic, paper, metal, wood, and so on) and domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, blades, batteries, mosquito repellents). If they don’t do that then it is supposed to invite penalty. However, it is yet to be implemented by the municipal corporations.
“If the expectation is that Bharat will become Swachh because citizens will help make it so, then knowing what they think, feel, want and do is a first, important step. Bharat will be Swachh, however, only if authorities at all levels succeed in leveraging and balancing citizens’ viewpoint for better governance and service delivery,” Bharati Chaturvedi, director of Chintan, said.
According to her, the municipalities have no option but to train segregation door-to-door, using volunteers.
“Putting up signs saying its important to segregate is not enough. People have to internalise this message. In Delhi, the municipalities claim to be broke all the time. But if they want to safeguard the city they have to be innovative and educate better. They have to ensure waste is collected and transported in a segregated way,” Chaturvedi said.