Jammuites living amid garbage dumps

Rajan Gandhi
Conducted as part of our PM Modi Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the last Survekshan of 2017- Leh, which is right now polythene-free , stood 100th followed by Anantnag at 197th, Srinagar at 241st and Jammu got 251st ranking. Even after repeated campaigns launched by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the city portrays a “pathetic picture” as failure of the municipal bodies and poor civic sense among residents has turned the winter capital of J&K into a huge garbage dump. The hype and photo sessions during the campaigns launched by JMC have failed to make an impact on ground. In the earlier Sarvekshan Jammu ranked 427th and as such JMC administrators can pat their backs for the great achievement but for the common man ground reality is the same, living daily in Garbage Dump. When it comes to cleanliness, poor planning and lack of interest shown by the government bodies to coordinate their efforts to involve people in sanitation and no strict action against violators speak the actual intent. Jammu with an estimated population of 12 lakh people generates approximately 400 tonnes of solid waste daily with one fourth of it going down the drains , choking each and every drain and nullah on the way to river Tawi or other water bodies and the photographs of work going on at City Chowk and Panama Chowk where nallah water is overflowing on road speak the truth with no explanation required and other one fourth remains as it is with shortage of manpower to lift it along with absence of suitable dumping ground and again photographs tell the sorry state of affairs. Further there is no regular removal of solid waste generated by eateries and restaurants spread across the city. Heaps of garbage, stagnant water and blocked drains in every part of the city tell a tale of neglect and indifferent attitude of the authorities and residents, who dump the waste on roads without giving any consideration.
Old Jammu city has two main collection dumping centre for waste, one at Parade Ground and another at Circular Road near DC office. Such is the state of Parade dumping site that permanent stagnant water is there throughout the day with stray animals scavenging on the waste and such is the stink that one cannot stand there even for two minutes. This site also creates traffic bottleneck on busiest road of the city. Astonishingly this is just opposite to Parade Police picket with adjoining SSP Jammu office along with chicken meat shop, one pakodawala and number of tea stalls also in the vicinity. With these food joints adjoining this dump site one can conclude two things, either JMC has invented a technology to sanitize this area completely or these food joints have some special technique to kill bacteria. With both JMC and food inspectors closing their eyes and playing with the health of public what kind of Swachh Jammu Abhiyaan is a million dollar question. Same is the story in posh Gandhi Nagar area where largest dumping site is on Auqaf land opposite Pahalwan Sweet shop with adjoining Jai Hind Bakery, a meat ,a chicken shop , one vegetable shop along with Surya Paneer shop and some dhabbas as well. City’s every nook and corner of the city has common sight of eateries in front of garbage dumps. Can any authority explain why these eateries and garbage are part and parcel and who is playing with the health of unaware public and is there any accountability of anyone?
Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) refers to a systematic process that comprises of waste segregation and storage at source, primary collection, secondary storage, transportation, secondary segregation, resource recovery, processing, treatment, and final disposal of solid waste. The management of municipal solid waste is one of the main functions of all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the country. All ULBs are required to meticulously plan, implement and monitor all systems of urban service delivery especially that of municipal solid waste. With limited financial resources, technical capacities and land availability, urban local bodies are constantly striving to meet this challenge. Solid waste includes solid or semi-solid domestic waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, catering and market waste and other non-residential wastes, street sweepings, silt removed or collected from the surface drains, horticulture waste, agriculture, dairy waste, treated bio-medical waste excluding industrial waste, e-waste, battery waste generated in the area under the local authorities .
JMC started this recently at Maheshpura locality by providing households bins to segregate the waste but since inception of this Swachh Bharat 2014 mission it is very little and too late.JMC must start using the urban concentration data it has from the latest census, identify the sites for waste collection and provide sufficient number of garbage containers, preferably having plastic lids that can be easily operated by the residents of the locality. Furthermore, JMC must facilitate waste segregation at this stage itself. This requires installation of separate containers bearing clear labels for bio-degradable waste such as perished food items, recyclable waste such as glass, plastics, paper and cardboard and hazardous waste such as chemicals and paints. And, people must be sensitized about the different categories of waste and encouraged to utilize this information while disposing it off. We, Jammuites care little about waste segregation at the disposal stage so much so that the solid waste is even thrown into the water drains itself, a practice that not only clogs the drains but also makes the problem of waste handling all the more complicated. Waste water and solid waste are two separate issues and their management requires separate processes and technologies.
Therefore, waste segregation at the outset should be encouraged as it is the first step in curbing the menace. All educational institutions, Government and corporate offices, civic bodies, NGOs, theater groups and media can play a vital role in educating the society on this aspect of the problem. As per Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 it is duty of waste generator to segregate and store the waste, not to litter or burn, and to prefer source waste processing by adopting any feasible technology like composting / biomethanation. The segregated waste collected thus is good for transportation to the facilities where scientific methods can be employed to convert it either into fuel or light energy or into useful resources such as drinking/irrigation water , bio compost and manure which can be sold and turn garbage into gold mine.
But leave alone household bins there are not enough garbage collection bins installed by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) around the old city resulting people dumping their daily trash at a common site and this way no household can complain and everyone uses the public property without a sense of remorse. Hence, a wide roadside venue, a street corner, or a spot adjacent to a public office/institution becomes the garbage dumping point. The areas where a garbage bin does exist are actually overflowing or placed at places from where it cannot be lifted. An open container not only spreads foul smell and diseases but also attracts stray dogs and human scavengers who would again spread the garbage around in search of food or recyclable articles. With no sewerage treatment plant operational right now in Jammu as agencies have failed to connect the households with the sewage pipes laid down in the whole city so that so that despite repeated intervention by State High Court no deadline has been given as authorities very well know that these 6-8 inch diameter pipes are not appropriate and will create further problems for the people as well as the Municipal Corporation and it seems public’s 150 plus crores have gone down the drain with no accountability.
Effects of waste and poor water disposal are disastrous with hazardous results like surface water contamination, soil contamination and formation of leachgate – liquid that forms as water trickles through contaminated areas formation. Everyone wants to live and visit places that are clean, fresh and healthy. A city with poor sanitation, smelling like a rot and with waste matter all over the place do not attract people, investors and tourists but attracts diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Swine flu to name a few. Dumped solid waste visible to passerby is aesthetically unpleasing, representing poor living standards of the city leading to epidemics and unfortunately Jammu is one of them. 2019 is going to be election year and with no visible signs of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan it’s going to be tough to convince public at least on this front. As they say actions speak louder than words one hope those in power wake up to this stark reality and do something constructive to resolve this mess.