Small is beautiful

Solid Waste Management is one of the important obligatory functions of the urban local bodies in India. Consider the case of Mumbai – along with the neighboring areas of Navi Mumbai and Thane, Mumbai is a city of about 19 million people. Citing 2008 figures, it is the world’s fifth most populous metropolitan area and currently, Mumbai generates waste to the tune of approximately 9000 tonnes per day.

The MCGM has the Advance Locality Management Scheme (ALM), which involves residents who segregate compost and recycle waste locally. The basic principle of the ALM is ‘self governance’. The main element of the partnership is the segregation of garbage into dry and wet waste, handing over the dry waste to rag pickers and composting of the wet waste within the locality. ALMs fit perfectly between the formal and informal waste management system. ALMs are formed streetwise or small area wise and waste collection and street sweeping are often considered the priority focus of ALMs.

Mumbai’s per capita waste generation rate of 0.5 kg/person/day is higher than the national average. Although the collection efficiency is reported to be as high as 90%, almost half of the city’s 19 million people live in slums, some of which do not have access to solid waste services. The pressing problem for Mumbai is also its acute shortage of land. Due to the lack of appropriate implementation and effort by the government, as well the apathy of the citizens, the city has become a fertile ground for an impending solid waste management crisis.

Though ALMs were considerably active bodies a few years back, much has changed and not many registered ALMs are functional now. Even the reality around Mumbai has changed. People living in rented flats who move in and out of the city do not participate in regular ALM activities. However, some ALM bodies have been active for over a decade. Advanced Locality Management and Networking Action Committee (ALMANAC), a federation of ALMs is one of them. Organized by Rajkumar Sharma who is a believer in waste management, ALMANAC continues to function in the suburb of Chembur. Sharma aims to create a model in Chembur which can be replicated in different areas. To know more, help or participate, you can contact Raj Kumar Sharma on 9820989310 or almanac.rks@gmail.com.

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