Using autos for transport is hard enough in Indian cities. Rely on them to pick up your garbage - and your troubles will worsen. BBMP's micro plan for garbage collection includes one auto tipper per 750 households. The black spots around the city speak volumes about how this plan has worked out. Auto tippers prefer commercial units (where they can charge a fee) to residences.
Hoysalanagar ward, despite having a large number of activist-residents is currently bearing the brunt of this. Now, residents have chosen to compost, using khambas or clay pots, to deposit wet waste. Dry waste collection, however, is still dependent on auto drivers angling for a bribe. When and how will accountability be brought into this process, asks Aknisree Karthik
It took a bold decision to do away with public bins in a city throwing up as much garbage as Bengaluru does. A new scheme came into being in its place : door to door garbage collection. And an auto tipper was allotted to every 750 households in an area to pick it up. But years down the road, the results are hardly encouraging. In the absence of the public bins, garbage is found dumped on roadsides, causing nauseating black spots that are welcomed only by stray cows and dogs that feed on the rubbish. Many see this as a clear indication of the failure of the door-to-door collection of garbage in the city. If the autos are carrying the garbage from homes as they are supposed to, why is the city dotted with piles of rubbish on the roads, they ask pertinently.
People of Hoysalanagar ward, which is among the affluent areas of the city like Indiranagar and HAL 1st and 2nd stages, complain that the autos have been missing for days now, leaving them with garbage they have no idea what to do with. “The auto tippers first head to commercial units although they are assigned only to collect garbage from domestic establishments. But because the commercial units give them a hefty tip, they prefer to serve them than people in homes here,” says one angry resident.
The ward , which is known for its civic activism, has many willing to compost its wet garbage and only hand over the dry to the auto tippers. The people here even have composting plants on their terraces, where the wet waste is deposited in three pots and transformed into organic compost in a matter of about 30 to 45 days. “People later use it for their roof-top gardens,” explains Ms Chitra Ramanujam of Malleshwaram.
But she notes that although the locals are making an effort to reduce their wet waste, they still have some to hand over to the collectors. "We need the autos to collect it along with the dry waste every day. But they insist on their palms being greased although they are paid well by the BBMP contractors. They shouldn’t be demanding any money,” she protests.
Also, the auto tippers are expected to blow a whistle when they arrive in an area, but they rarely do, complain others. “They want to quickly leave and move away even before we can come out of our homes to hand over the garbage,” grumbles Ms Reshma of Chamarajpet.
Others like Mr Javeed, a techie, have their own set of problems. Says he, “ I reach home only by 3 am every day owing to my work. But as we don't know when the auto tippers will arrive, we are forced to lose sleep every day waiting for them from 7 am onwards." In his view it would make more sense for the auto tippers to collect garbage from the entrance of buildings or at a common place instead of door-to-door.
But ask Mayor Gangambike about it and she is not enthusiastic, arguing that it may not work in the long term. "I have been getting many complaints about the auto tippers. In some areas they don't go on time and in others they do not go at all. In yet other areas, only the pourakarmikas are sent to collect garbage in push carts although they are supposed to be used in localities where the auto tippers cannot enter. I have raised these issues with the health department and will soon go on surprise inspections across the city to make sure the system is working. If not, either the contractor or the BBMP officials responsible, will be dealt with seriously," she warns.
I have been getting many complaints about the auto tippers. In some areas, they don't go on time and in others they do not go at all. In yet other areas, only the pourakarmikas are sent to collect garbage in push carts although they are supposed to be used in localities where the auto tippers cannot enter. I have raised these issues with the health department and will soon go on surprise inspections across the city to make sure the system is working. If not, either the contractor or the BBMP officials responsible, will be dealt with seriously
— gangambike MAYOR
‘BBMP being fooled by contractors’
Some of the city’s civic activists believe that the BBMP is being hoodwinked by the garbage contractors, who don’t engage as many auto tippers as they claim to on paper. Says solid waste management expert, Ramakanth, “Ninety per cent of the wards in the city do not have the number of autos they should have for every 750 houses. The BBMP is being fooled by the contractors. For example, if a ward is supposed to have around 30 auto tippers, the number may be recorded in the registry, but in reality less than one fourth of the autos required may be out collecting garbage door- to- door. "
He claims this is the only reason why the city is dotted with black spots. “People just throw their rubbish on roadsides if the autos don’t reach them. On the one hand, the contractors are scamming the BBMP with their fake auto numbers and on the other, the auto tippers give priority to commercial units when they do go out on the roads,” Mr Ramakanth claims
Civic experts have now advised the BBMP to fit every auto tipper with RFID tags that are geo-fenced based on its assigned area to keep track of it. “If the auto crosses the border of his area or misses the cycle, the BBMP will be alerted and will be able to deduct the payment of the contractor,” he notes.
But the activist doesn’t support the idea of collecting garbage twice a day. “When the civic body is already spending hundreds of crores to collect garbage and transport it, collecting it twice could prove much too expensive and pave the way for some more scams in the BBMP,” he warns.