- No solid waste treatment plant in Jalandhar despite years of planning
- Necessary stakeholders not greenlighting plant project, says municipal body
- Expenditure worth crores in the past two years hasn’t yielded results
New Delhi: Waste generated in a city should be treated within the city, albeit treated or recycled. And waste treatment plants play an important role to ensure that waste generated within the city limits is processed within the city. But with just 79 composting plants across India and 35 under construction for over 4,000 cities in India, the gap in numbers is clearly visible. Jalandhar is one such city which is struggling to contain its waste problem as attempts to construct a waste treatment plant in the city is facing several roadblocks.
Jalandhar’s ranked a poor 233 out of 434 cities in Swachh Survekshan 2017, despite featuring in the list of potential smart cities under the Centre’s Smart City Programme. The city generates nearly 380 tonnes of solid waste daily. Garbage dumps, choked sewers and lack of public toilets resulted in overwhelming negative feedback from citizens and that reflected in the rankings.
A high-level meeting was conducted a week after the publication of the rankings in May 2017 and the lack of a waste processing plant within the city perimeters was identified as the immediate reason why waste continued to be an issue for the city’s civic administration. Garbage dumps are found even in some of the city’s busiest roads and remain piled up there for days before being cleared out.
Garbage continues to remain on roadsides for days at stretch because even the municipal workers know that the city’s garbage collection points are overflowing with waste. Unless waste is cleared from them and transported to waste recycling plants outside the city, garbage collectors also have no option but to collect waste at lengthy intervals, said Sukhbir Kapoor, member of NGO Pahal which has collaborated with Jalandhar’s civic body on tackling waste issues.
The lack of a functioning waste treatment plant definitely hurt Jalandhar and the cycle is likely to be repeated next year, when Swachh Survekshan 2018 begins in January. Plans to set up a waste treatment plant in Jalandhar have been doing the rounds since September 2015, when the Municipal Corporation of Jalandhar held a meeting and identified potential spots where a waste treatment plant could be set up. However, the talks did not materialise into anything concrete and eventually the city civic body also got busy with preparations for Swachh Survekshan.
As per plans of the municipal body, each of its 60 wards was to have a biomethanation plant to convert waste into biogas, as well as one large waste treatment plant in the city’s vicinity. Post the release of Swachh Survekshan rankings this year, the Municipal Corporation met in September and passed a unanimous resolution to build a waste treatment plant in Wariana dump site, as well as build smaller biomethanation plants in wards. Nearly two months on, there has been no movement forward.
Setting up a waste treatment plant requires several government clearances from health department, the revenue department and other offices of the state government. We have forwarded the proposal to them but are yet to hear back from them. We can proceed only when the plan is greenlit by all the concerned departments, said Gurpreet Singh Khehra, Municipal Commissioner, Jalandhar.
But many are not too sure of the municipal body’s ability to turn things around soon. Nearly Rs 50 crore has already been spent in the last four years to improve solid waste management in the city but without much improvement. A sweeping machine project worth Rs 30 crore was started by the municipality in 2016. Two machines were hired for five years for cleaning the city’s main roads but failed to have much impact on the city’s waste scenario. Sanitation equipment worth Rs 4 crores bought by the municipal corporation hasn’t had much impact either, as many public toilets continue to remain unclean. Further, bitter infighting in the corporation between the mayor and elected councilors due to political differences has made the functioning of the civic body more difficult.
For the city’s waste management to become better, a waste treatment plant is a must. The municipality must focus on building the treatment plant as soon as possible. A functional waste treatment plant near the city will ease waste management and increase the rate of waste treatment and recycling. Till the waste treatment plant is built, segregation of waste is a must to lower the load on garbage collectors, said Mr Kapoor.
It seems that the upcoming Swachh Survekshan may not bear great results for Jalandhar. But if the city’s municipal corporation can keep aside the infighting among its officials and start work on the waste treatment plant by next year, Jalandhar can hope to be a clean city after all.