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Bobbili town: An inspiring lesson in smart waste management

Bobbili clean city picture

Bobbili (Vizianagaram): In 2008-09, Bobbili town in Vizianagaram district was filthy and unhygienic like most other Indian towns. With household and commercial garbage littered all around on the roads and drains, the dirty water would overflow on the streets as the drains would be clogged, dogs and pigs posed a big menace to the city. The place was a hub of water and vector-borne diseases such as gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, malaria and dengue and the government hospitals and clinics remained full with such patients.

Cut to 2010-11. The same town was rid of pig menace, there were no clogged drains, no dirty littered streets in sight, no plastic bags or sachets and since the last four years, there were almost no cases of vector and water borne diseases. The town has a population of about 67,500 people and 14,500 households and 1,072 commercial establishments.

All this was possible due to a scientific and sustainable solid waste management system in place, which not only collected household and commercial waste door to door, segregated and processed them but also made optimum use of waste products for producing vermi-compost, biogas and electrification in an 8.5-acre Solid Waste Management (SWM) Park.

Bobbili is the only town in AP and one of the 10 towns in India to have such a scientific solid waste management system and 100 per cent collection of garbage in place as found in a survey by the Centre for Science and Environment, a non-profit public interest research and advocacy organisation. It has also won the Prayavaron Mitra Award from the state government besides several other environment awards.

This has been possible due to the relentless efforts of an active municipal body and citizens since 2010. Since 2009, K Prasad, the then municipal commissioner of Bobbili took the initiative to generate awareness among the people for a cleaner town, commenced the method of segregating at source dry and wet wastes and stop incidences of littering through cent per cent door to door collection since 2011. In 2011, the municipality also passed a resolution strictly banning the use of polythene bags, plastic water sachets, plastic carry bags irrespective of microns. A Task Force committee also periodically checks the ban and penalises if there’s any violation.

With the motto ‘Waste is not a waste, it can be recycled again…let us reduce, reuse and recycle,’ the current Bobbili municipal commissioner H Shankara Rao also carried on Prasad’s legacy and further improved on the waste management system with the support of a capable municipal chairperson T Atchutavalli and around 105 municipal staff who are endeavouring to keep the town clean.

The town generates 17 tonnes of garbage daily of which around eight tonnes are wet, around four tonnes are dry and five tonnes are inert debris. Explaining the procedure of waste management, Shankara Rao said, “From 6 am, nine tempo-type vehicles are despatched in nine routes in the town besides a vehicle fitted with a mike urging citizens to drop the household garbage in the vehicles instead of littering. Each vehicle is fitted with 20 bins (of 60 litre capacity each) and 10 bags of 100 kg capacity each. The bins are meant for wet waste while the bags are meant for dry waste. Each vehicle carries six workers, who collect and segregate the waste at the source and bring them to the intermediate station by 1 pm. From there, all the segregated waste would be sent to the Solid Waste Management Park (SWMP) and compost yard. Besides vermicompost, biogas is also produced from the by-products of composting, which is converted to electricity and is used to run the SWMP, thus saving monthly electricity bills worth Rs 30,000-40,000. ”

“At the SWMP, a pulveriser machine reduces the wet waste into tiny pieces while hydraulic baler is used to compress the dry waste, make them into 50-80 kg bundles and sell off to recycling industries. These include paper, leather, metals, and cardboards and so on. Paper recycling also helps us save 3,700 trees per year and thus reduce carbon footprint” added U Soumesh, environment engineer at the municipality.

“By selling the dry and wet waste and vermi compost manure, an income of Rs 3,80,000 is generated per year. One tractor (containing two tonnes of compost) is sold at Rs 250. We also collect Rs 19,000 per month from 1072 commercial establishments as user charges,” added the commissioner.

To prevent people from using thousands water sachets and littering during festivals and functions, the municipality itself supplies potable water on these occasions to people. “We are continuously conducting public awareness campaigns and meetings with the help of self-help groups, NGOs and reaching out to school and college students. The people of Bobbili are also cooperating in plastic ban and by stopping littering of waste,” informed P Asha Jyothi, regional director, municipal administration.

The penalty for violators is also innovative and effective. “Those who would not cooperate with the municipal staff and litter the roads and drains would have to construct one to 10 tree guards for plantation depending on the enormity of crime. If the shop owners litter, the municipal workers will throw back the garbage in front of such errant shops. Fine imposed varies from Rs 500 Rs 3000 for shops,” informed the municipal chairperson T Atchutavalli.