With the Naveen Patnaik government’s emphasis being on meticulously planned urbanization and smart city projects being implemented in two cities – Bhubaneswar and Rourkela – of the state, the issue of urban waste management has assumed special importance. The good news on this front is that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to partner with the state government to strengthen the urban waste management system. The recycling of dry waste for commercial use will be one of the focus areas under this new initiative.
The UNDP will provide hand-holding and technical support for running waste processing units and setting up downstream facilities with private investment for value addition in recyclable dry waste, including plastic waste. The Housing and Urban Development (H&UD) department is reported to have signed an agreement with the international body in this regard.
According to the agreement, the urban development department and UNDP will work together for capacity building and skill enhancement, including digital skills of community partners associated with dry waste management at the waste processing units. Equally importantly, steps will be taken to create additional livelihood opportunities for the waste pickers.
This is a great move considering that the city of Bhubaneswar alone generates approximately 520 tons of solid waste daily. Out of 67 wards in Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), 57 wards have been grouped into four packages for the purpose of solid waste management activities, including municipal solid waste collection and transportation, conservancy cleaning, drain cleaning and desilting.
Some private agencies under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode are carrying out Solid Waste Management (SMW) activities in most of the wards. These activities include door-to-door garbage collection, street sweeping, MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) transportation, drain cleaning, drain desilting, conservancy cleaning and bush cutting.
In some other wards, the BMC is carrying out the SWM activities on a daily basis. But solid waste management in cities such as Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela and Berhampur, all of which are run by municipal corporations, remains a major challenge considering the volume of waste being generated on a daily basis. Hence the need for support by an international agency like UNDP that has the necessary expertise in the area.
While expert support is necessary to ensure efficient solid urban waste management, citizens should also have a proper understanding of their duties in this regard. They should shun the habit of littering and instead dump their wastes only at the designated garbage collection sites. They should also be careful about segregating dry and wet waste and handing it over to the municipal collectors who move from door to door. Unless they start behaving responsibly and play the role expected from them in keeping their cities clean, the dream of making our cities garbage free cannot be realized.