Three weeks, 40 wards, 32 DWCCs and 640 kms on a scooter…..here is a look at what is happening in Bangalore’s Dry Waste Collection Centres in West zone, Dasarahalli Zone, Mahadevapura and C.V.Raman nagar.
It all started at the last meeting with the Mayor, some three weeks ago, when we asked a simple question: “What is the status of DWCCs in Bangalore?” The BBMP turned the table on us and asked if we could help them find out! BBMP Chief Engineer, Mr. Nagaraj, in charge of the West and Dasarahalli zone gave us the list and contacts. He requested us to visit each of the DWCCs and verify the information they have about which ones are functional and what is really happening on the ground.
So off we went from ward to ward, meeting AEEs, Environmental Engineers, Health Inspectors and of course the people at the DWCCs, trying to get a hang of what was planned and what is happening on the ground. We travelled to around 40 wards and covered 32 DWCCs, of which only 15 were functional. The information we gathered is based on what we were told by the BBMP officials in the wards where DWCCs were functional and by the people at the DWCC. The data from each DWCC has been submitted to the BBMP.
According to the BBMP, 204 DWCCs are planned, of which 147 have been constructed and 70 are functional. We are yet to visit all the DWCCs, but here is the journey so far and what we learnt. The functional DWCCs we visited cover these 28 wards
- West Zone – Ward no. 121, 120, 77, 94, 95, 109, 96, 97, 98, 108, 101, 64, 65, 66, 76, 45, 35, 36, 44, 67, 43, 12, 39
- C.V.Raman Nagar – Ward no. 80, 88, 113
- Mahadevapura – Ward no. 149
Overview of the West & Dasarahalli Zone DWCCs
|Division||Total no. of wards||Functional DWCCs||How many wards are the functional DWCCs supposed to cater to?|
|7 divisions||52 wards||15 functional DWCCs||23 wards covered under functional DWCCs|
Summary of findings
The below information is gathered from 15 functional DWCCs catering to 23 wards in West & Dasarahalli Zone
- NGOs / Individuals managing DWCC: Hasiru Dala- 6, Namana Foundation – 4, Swachha – 2, Navachetana Foundation 1, Individuals – 4*
* Two DWCCs, though locked are managed by another DWCC run by same organization, I.e.120 is locked, but managed by Mr.Vadivelu in 121, and 97 is locked, but managed by Swachha in 108.
- Infrastructure – Most centres(except for 2) have water, electricity, toilets and weighing machine. None of the DWCCs, except for W67, are paying electricity or water bills as BBMP takes care of this.
Note:DWCC in W96, Okalipura takes electricity from street light in the evenings. DWCCs in W101 is located inside the Kamakshipalya lake boundary (encroached). DWCCs in W44, W12 has no electricity or water connection.
- No. of workers at the DWCC – Total 53, Average – 3.5 per DWCC
- Methods of Waste Collection
|Methods of waste collection||Total number giving to the DWCC||Percentage out of total existing in the ward|
|BBMP Autos||63||28% *||*Assuming each ward has 15 autos|
|Pourakarmikas (Pks)||63||6%**||**Assuming each ward has 50 Pks|
|Waste pickers||30||NO DATA|
|Others||Metal waste from nearby factories|
- Quantity of waste collected through DWCCs per month
Total dry waste from West & Dasarahalli Zone – 80 tons (i.e.17% of what they should be handling. At present, it doesn’t look like DWCCs can handle more than 1 ton per day)
Average – 5.3 tons per month / DWCC (considering 13 DWCCs)
- Quantity of rejects per month
Total rejects from West & Dasarahalli Zone – 8.425 tons per month (7.8% of total)
Average – 0.561 ton per month / DWCC (considering 13 DWCCs)
- Dry waste Items that are not accepted by the DWCC
Except for the W67 DWCC, most other centres do not accept mattress, pillow, utensils, bags(only zip is used), chappals, shoes, leather and cloth items. These do not figure in the number presented for rejects, as they do not even enter the DWCC in the first place.
- Status of segregation at source
Negligible or Nil. Segregation at source happens only in Apartments, where NGOs running DWCCs collect waste directly.
- How are items brought to the DWCC?
In all cases except Apartments, BBMP auto drivers or PKs remove plastic waste from the mixed waste and hand over to the DWCC. In case of centres which engage waste pickers, they pick dry waste from blackspots on the road, and tetra packs from bars, shops, etc.
- Who are the resellers or recyclers?
Most of the dry waste is sent to a reseller in Jolly Mohalla. Some of it is sent to the recycler, K.K. Plastic and Mr. Kailash in Summanahalli
- Revenue (Estimation) – Insufficient data
- Revenue (actuals) – Not revealed
We have tried to analyse the data on the following parameters
- Segregation at Source
- Segregation is only happening in some apartments which come under the category of Bulk Waste Generators / where the NGOs running DWCCs are directly collecting the dry waste on their own.
- In all other cases, the BBMP autos or Purakarmikas(PKs) are hand picking selected high value dry waste from mixed waste and handing over these to the DWCC. There is hardly any segregation at source happening through any of the BBMP autos or PKs.
- Waste pickers who are engaged in 5 DWCCs run by Hasiru Dala / Namana Foundation, mainly pick selected dry waste from Blackspots on the road and from nearby bars. In these DWCCs, waste from BBMP autos or PKs is hardly dealt with. The question of any form of segregation at source does not arise here.
2. Quantity of dry waste handled through DWCCs
- At best, 1 ton of dry waste per day per DWCC is handled. Not more than that. This hardly amounts to 1/20thof the waste generated per day in one ward (assuming that each ward will eventually have a DWCC).
- In cases of DWCC catering to multiple wards, the volume of waste handled per ward comes down even further. Ex: Malleshwaram DWCC caters to 7 wards, but handles only 3.5 tons of dry waste per month.
- Being optimistic, even if each ward has a DWCC exclusively, which works to full capacity, as of now only 198 tons of dry waste per day will be handled through these centres. This amounts to 5.6% of the total waste generated in Bangalore (assuming we generate 3500 tons of waste per day).
3. Dry waste handled through the DWCCs
- About 15-20 items are handled in the DWCCs.
- The items that are rejected at source include mattresses, pillows, furniture, clothes, bags, shoes, chappals, thermocole, etc. These items are discouraged from entering the DWCC and are sent back with BBMP lorry if they happen to land at the DWCC.
- Rejects that are dry waste but are not of high value and require labour for further sorting are also sent back. Around 8% of mixed dry waste are rejects which are sent back to the landfill through the BBMP. This is apart from the dry waste which they do not accept in the DWCCs.
4. Safe disposal of the waste
- DWCCs sell the dry waste to resellers. Apart from K.K,. Plastics, the others are resellers (mainly from Jolly Mohalla) and not recyclers.
- There is no data available through DWCCs as to who are the recyclers who handle the waste given to resellers. Whether these recyclers have PCB clearance or not is unknown.
- The end disposal of dry waste given to resellers is not being tracked. Therefore it is unknown whether such recycling is safe or unsafe.
5. Information which we could not gather
- The revenue generated could not be ascertained or estimated due to lack of necessary data
- The contracts and revenue generated by NGOs who manage the dry waste from Bulk Waste Generators could not be ascertained
Below are some essential bits that are either getting lost or being deliberately hidden, but need to be mentioned.
Hiding behind Sanitary Napkins
The one thing that has emerged clearly is that the way in which Bhaskar and I have made segregation at source happen in one auto in Ward 195 is not happening in any of these other locations that we visited (we will be thrilled if proven wrong). This might be the highest level of segregation that is happening for a BBMP auto that collects garbage from the layouts we visited. Yet the reality is that some amount of Sanitary Napkins, Diapers & Bio-medical waste end up coming with the dry waste (this is despite us going with the auto for almost a month and repeatedly telling residents). This is a reality we need to deal with and find ways to counter.
However, what typically happens in other DWCCs is that the BBMP garbage collectors are made to put their hand into mixed waste and pull out only that which a DWCC could use. While DWCCs make a great hue & cry about their workers having to touch Sanitary Pads or Diapers, they seem to turn an absolute cold shoulder to this and much worse treatment that the BBMP collectors are put through to serve the purpose of the DWCC. The pictures at the end of this blog speak for themselves.
It is high time that the experts who claim their high standard of segregation finally get off their high chair and step on the ground – either prove us wrong and show how it can be done, or find ways to deal with the reality instead of hiding behind excuses of Sanitary Napkins.
Even if we believe whole heartedly that DWCCs were started with the best of intention to make segregation at source happen and then these centres manage the dry waste, how can we run away from what the reality is at present? It is clearly emerging, that even in the best case, we can only divert around 5 – 6% of Bangalore’s waste from going to the Landfills through the DWCC. What happens to the other types of waste, apart from wet waste that can be composted?
- Mixed/soiled dry waste(from blackspots) – Consider Dasarahalli Zone where the BBMP C.E has maintained an impressive register of blackspots and tracks its clearance daily. There are a total of 70 blackspots here where garbage is dumped. Other Health Inspectors have admitted to us that there will be at least 50 blackspots in most wards. That means, people haven’t even formed the habit of handing over waste to the garbage collector. And here we are, blinding ourselves that segregation will solve all the problems. What is the plan to dispose off all this mixed waste?
- Low quality dry waste – It does not make economical sense for DWCCs to spend on labour to segregate low value waste. So obviously, it is sent back to the landfill or in most cases, not even taken. Right now, DWCCs can afford to reject these items at source claiming that it is soiled. But if we make segregation at source happen, how will the DWCCs handle this? It might seem that making segregation happen will work against the functioning of DWCCs.
- Waste which no one knows what to do with (leather, thermocole, mattress, etc) and hence are not even accepted at the DWCC. Just walk in to your nearest DWCC with an old pillow, mattress or bag and you’ll know what I mean. What is to be done with these items?
- Finally, the less than 5% waste that does go through the DWCC at present most often goes to resellers, not recyclers. Apart from K.K.Plastics, no one knows who these recyclers are and if their recycling is causing more harm than good is unknown.
- Making the excuse of DWCCs being a new initiative and needing time to pick up is a lame excuse. A classic example is the Malleshwaram DWCC which is mapped to 7 wards and has been around for more than 2 years, yet handles less than 4 tons of dry waste a month.
The unquestioned questions
Who will ask these questions? And more importantly, who do we ask these to?
- What was the logic and plan behind spending BBMP revenue and precious real estate in setting up DWCCs which at the end of the day can at best handle some 5% of Bangalore’s garbage?
- Who has to monitor the DWCCs and are the NGOs/individuals running these centres answerable to anyone?
- Is anyone thinking of solutions outside landfills for the rest of our garbage which DWCCs won’t accept and can’t be composted either?
- It is not BBMP who suggested segregation as the be-all and end-all of our garbage problems, and expecting them to make it happen is washing our hands off any responsibility. Yet, it is the BBMP workers who are doing their best to send whatever they can to the DWCCs, despite the inhuman way in which they are made to hand-pick waste. Those who suggested DWCCs and segregation aren’t doing anything besides talking about it. So what are the standards for the extent of segregation and who has to make it happen?
Money has been spent. A lot of chit-chat has happened. And whether or not it makes sense, DWCCs are here. No idea should be dismissed until it is tried in the most honest way possible, to the greatest extent possible. Bhaskar and I will now go back to making segregation at source happen in a few wards to the best extent possible, so that no stone is left unturned to see what segregation can actually do. Hopefully, this will also give us a clearer picture of the elusive quantities of different types of waste that we are actually dealing with. The coming weeks will reveal what emerges.
Pics of how dry waste is hand picked by the BBMP workers to hand over to the DWCCs – is this what we call segregation at source?