New Delhi: Indore, the largest city in Madhya Pradesh and central India’s business and education hub, has set a record of winning the title of the cleanest city in India every year since 2017. Not only has the city continued to retain its position, but every year Indore also manages to better its own performance and make the city more sustainable, green, and eco-friendly with unique initiatives. After making the whole city Open Defecation Free (ODF) and landfill-free, for the last few years, Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has been making the city cleaner by focusing on waste management at the source. IMC tells NDTV that its main goal is to make recycling, reusing, and disposing of waste faster and in a more organised way.
At present, the cleanest city in the country practices six-bin waste segregation at source for the household and commercial levels, which include bins for dry waste, wet waste, plastic waste, e-waste, domestic sanitary waste, and domestic hazardous waste.
The IMC, however, credits the people of Indore and their commitment and cooperation for being able to achieve a spectacular waste management mechanism, Asad Warsi, Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan adviser for Indore Municipal Corporation explains,
On average, the per day waste generation by the city includes 530 tonnes of wet waste, 460 tonnes of dry waste, 14 tonnes of plastic waste, 2.5 tonnes of e-waste, 11 tonnes of sanitary waste, and 3.5 tonnes of hazardous waste. To deal with each kind of waste in the city, we have created a separate system. The city has also been working on strategies to eliminate waste generation at the source itself and has been able to establish four wards as zero-waste wards.
In 2016, the IMC started collecting only segregated waste every day from households.
When the waste segregation began, over 80 per cent of the residents would not segregate waste. We had to plead with them as to why this is essential for the environment. However, if people repeatedly gave unsegregated trash, we eventually started fining those households, Mr Warsi said.
In 2017-18, the IMC collected Rs 27 crore in the form of user fees for waste collection, he added. Now, 6 years and 5 titles later, people are happy to segregate their waste at source. He further says that the waste collected by the municipal corporation is transported in vehicles and the processing of 100 per cent of the waste collected is done on the same day. Presently Indore is among the six cities in the country to hold a Five-star rating in the Garbage Free Cities Rating, which was one of the four important components of Swachh Survekshan.
The IMC has also established several wet waste processing plants to process its wet waste. Indore is undertaking an initiative to convert waste into energy with an aim to deal with wet waste and at the same time reduce the city’s dependence on fossil fuel which causes air pollution. The Waste-to-Energy plant installed by IMC converts wet waste into 95 per cent pure biogas called Methane which is further converted into CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). We also have undertaken an initiative of garden waste management under which about 59 tonnes of bulk garden and horticultural waste is being processed every day. IMC also uses Mobile Composting Units for making compost from waste. We have also been encouraging people to practice home composting. Currently, more than 50,000 households in the city are composting their kitchen waste at home.
When it comes to solid waste management, Mr Warsi explains,
IMC follows a unique system of garbage collection, all the households that come under IMC area have been given two large bags for them to store plastic waste separately. When one bag is filled, people send a message to the agency appointed for recycling the plastic waste in the city. The agency sends its personnel to the household to buy the plastic from them at a minimum price of Rs. 1.5 per kilogram up to Rs. 5 per kg depending upon the quality of the plastic. Thus, not only is IMC saving on transportation and handling of plastic waste with this process, but it is also helping people gain out of their scrapped plastic products. Moreover, plastic waste from the city is successfully collected and is being sent to the plastic waste treatment facility where it is converted into diesel. The treatment plant is able to process 8 tonnes of plastic every day and give 3500 litres of diesel on a daily basis. We also have a treatment facility where the plastic waste is being converted into cement bricks. Non-recyclable waste is sent to this plant and the M.P. Rural Road Development Corporation uses in the construction of road and sidewalks. These steps ensure a hundred percent waste management on the same day and we simply have no need for a landfill anymore.
In 2019, IMC decided to make Indore ‘a no landfill city’ and therefore removed 15 lakh tonnes of legacy waste in a mere six months’ time and reclaimed 100 acres of land which is now worth Rs. 400 Crores.
Along with all this, Indore has also been given the tag of India’s first “water plus” city, which is a certificate provided to a city for maintaining cleanliness in rivers and drains under its administration. According to the guidelines of Swachh Bharat Mission, a city can be declared as Water Plus only after all wastewater released from households, and commercial establishments is treated to a satisfactory level before releasing the treated wastewater into the environment.
Richa Singh, Landfill expert from Centre for Science and Environment tells NDTV how Indore could manage the mammoth task of streamlining the waste management in the city.
Most of the cities are presently struggling to even achieve two-way segregation, which is to separate your waste in two categories – wet and dry. But having said that, there have been many success stories in our country like Indore, Bhopal, Ambikapur, Karad in Maharashtra. They have done so well in waste segregation. Indore is the city that is segregating waste in six categories – wet, dry, plastic, hazardous, sanitary and e-waste and it is not that they did it in one day, it is a process that will take time, but willingness is very important. Indore started with two-way segregation with an extensive awareness campaign by the local bodies and they achieved this in just three years.
She further says that the city was able to motivate the citizens to adopt the practice of waste segregation and treat all their 95 per cent of waste and this way they are making sure that only 5 to 10 per cent of the reject, or which is not recycled only that waste goes to the scientifically designed dumping ground.
So, you are reducing the burden also you are earning revenue with the help of this. The same thing is being done in Ambikapur and other cities as well and these are the good examples that need to be replicated, she adds.
Ms Singh asserts that we need to understand that dumpsite remediation is the mandate by the government and the authorities are in constant pressure to do so. She said,
Having said that it is very very important for the urban local bodies to have an action plan to manage their fresh waste. For example, in Indore they are treating 550 tonnes of wet waste in a bio CNG plant – now imagine what is the cost of CNG in Delhi, it can become a self-sustaining option for the city. 550 tones every day Indore is generating 17,000 kg of bio CNG, so if we go by that statistics imagine how much change a city like Delhi can bring.
Swati Singh Sambyal, Waste Management Specialist at the UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme) says that the achievements by Indore are a result of its political and administrative will.
Indore has definitely resolved the majority of its solid waste challenge and it continues to do so. If we look at the finances, its model is highly cost-intensive. Indore has made an investment of Rs 180 crore into waste management practices and spent Rs 155 crore on its operations in 2017-2018, many cities do not get that much of money for solid waste management and sanitation. However, Indore also has a collection of user fees, and high penalty charges, and makes revenue from the sale of compost and dry waste, which makes it a win-win situation. Also, at this point, the city is known for its cleanliness and the governments have no problem in further enhancing it and ensuring the title of the cleanest city of India remains intact, for politically the will emerges from that angle.
Mr Warsi says that the success of Indore’s waste management model shows that this is not only doable but the only way forward to protect the planet from the ever-rising plastic waste problem.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.