Government of Karnataka Project: Management of Solid Waste

As part of the Swachh Bharath Abhiyan, T.A PAI Management Institute in collaboration with the Badagabettu Gram Panchayat (Govt of Karnataka) is implementing a Solid Waste Management Program for the houses/shops in the Panchayat with the aim of segregating waste at source. The main objectives of carrying out the project are:

  • Implementing a sustainable model for waste segregation at source so as to minimize the impact on environment
  • Producing organic manure from the biodegradable waste collected

As part of the project, 54 households in Dasharath nagar were selected for a pilot study. These houses to be covered were provided to us by the Gram Panchayat. Further implementation of the project as is or whether any changes need to be made on the existing plan would be decided based on the success of the pilot study.

The Present Process

All the households are provided with two buckets by the Gram Panchayat for segregating and keeping the bio degradable and non-biodegradable waste. The waste collection is done by the Gram Panchayat on a daily basis. However, the truck makes just one trip and collects all types of waste – biodegradable, non-bio degradable and trash in that single trip. So the major issue that arises at present is that there is a high probability that the waste gets mixed up in the truck. And we have observed that it is happening too. So even if the households are segregating and keeping the waste, the end objective is not met. This actually has deterred some of the households from segregating the waste – they feel that all the work done by them in waste segregation is going in vain because of the mix up happening in the truck.

The Segregation Project – Initial Phase

To overcome this, what we have suggested as part of the project is to collect the waste in 2 different trips – one for the biodegradable waste and the other for the non-biodegradable waste. So an initial meeting was conducted with the waste collectors in the presence of the Panchayat authorities. There, we briefed them about the importance of the project and how the waste should be collected from the selected 54 households. We asked them to take utmost care so that the mixing of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste does not happen.

As part of the Program, an awareness drive was conducted for the 54 houses selected by the Badagabettu Gram Panchayat on September 12th. A dedicated team of 20 volunteers from TAPMI were there for the drive. The volunteers were selected based on their interest by floating a Google form and the rest of the team consisted of the Social Endeavour Group (the group of students from TAPMI engaged in socially relevant activities) members. The volunteers were divided into 5 teams of 3 to 4 members. The head of the Panchayat and a representative from the Panchayat accompanied us in the drive helping us in locating the houses initially.

As part of the drive, the student groups visited the houses and apprised them of the relevance of waste segregation, the importance of this project and how the community as a whole would be benefitted out of the exercise. Every member of the house, whoever was present was made aware of the project. We had gone with two posters for sticking onto the two buckets so that they can easily identify which bucket is for what purpose and put the waste accordingly. The volunteers themselves stuck those posters onto the buckets. The panchayat had also provided us with a brochure indicating about the project and asking for their cooperation for the same. These brochures, both in Kannada and English were also distributed to the households.

Post the Initial Phase

The project started on 15th of September, 2016. The waste collectors, instead of going to the 54 houses on separate trips are managing it with a single trip. Now, they have kept a separate container inside the truck wherein they put all the non-biodegradable waste and the bio degradable waste are put in the remaining space in the truck. They have told us that they are not mixing the waste. However, at present only 18 of the households are properly segregating the waste. The Panchayat authorities have asked the waste collectors to again convince the importance of the project to the households not properly following the plan. We had also made a request with the Panchayat authorities to provide buckets to houses devoid of it. The authorities are taking stock of the situation and have replied in the affirmative. We had monitored the progress for a further period of two years.

Request made to CEO of Zilla Panchayat

As per the present situation, all the waste whatever is collected is being sent to a common dump yard. The waste collectors and the Panchayat authorities have told us that in the dump yard, they would assign separate locations for biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste. However, there are high chances of both types of waste being mixed up there. The non-biodegradable waste would be used for landfill and the bio-degradable waste would be used for manufacturing of manure/organic fertilizers. As per the Panchayat authorities, the manufacturing of this organic fertilizers would happen in another three to four months. Once that is begun, there should not be any mixing of plastic waste with the biodegradable waste – the entire production lot of the fertilizer would get affected if that happens. In order to prevent such a situation, we had made a request with the CEO of Zilla Panchayat to expedite the land acquisition and approval process so that there would not be any delay in implementing the scheme.

The Second Stage

As a continuation to the process, a meeting was convened by the Block Development officer of Badagabettu Gram Panchayat where representatives from the residential area as well as from TAPMI were present. There were still concerns about the irregularities in waste collection. To understand and address these issues we have decided to conduct the program on a larger scale. For this the entire households at Dasharath nagar were selected for carrying out a cluster analysis. In total 203 houses would be covered as per this. A well thought of questionnaire was prepared by the professors at TAPMI after extensive research on similar issues elsewhere in the world. The questionnaire covers all the aspects from the demographics of respondents to challenges faced and intentions for waste segregation to enablers in waste segregation. Currently the survey part is going on and close to 100 houses have been covered. Based on the survey results, we would be using various managerial tools and techniques to identify issues and ways to mitigate them. A final report would also be presented to the CEO of Zilla Panchayat with our findings and suggesting ways to improve the waste collection process and efficient conversion of the municipal waste to energy.