The garbage dilemma of Patna Municipal Corporation


Who is responsible for the garbage collection and its disposal in the City ? Obviously, anyone will say, its the municipal corporation of the city, which here is the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC). In fact, it is, but delving into a bit dipper, it will show a different story. Though the Corporation is manned by the efficient bureaucrats of the State government, yet the recent judicial initiative taken by the Honorable Patna High Court throws a different light. Fed up with the same old replies of the cleanliness of the city by the PMC, the High Court Bench has even said that it would send its own team of lawyers to video graph the garbage problem in the City and the bring it to the notice of PMC and the state government. The bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Shivaji Pandey also criticized the two for their existing old and parochial work culture in a hearing in the beginning of the month. The Patna High Court has been virtually directing the PMC to go after the garbage during last few years, and, sadly, the bureaucrats has not even been following those directives.

The problem of garbage has acquired greater proportion in the city during last few years. As the time has progressed, the problem has aggravated, mostly due to apathy of the municipal corporation. While the City's population has grown considerably in the last decade, the corporation's approach and policy has remain as that of old times only. It is not uncommon to see piles of garbage lying in the very center of the City, say Station road or Maurya Lok Complex. The situation of newly developed areas can be imagined only. Though, PMC has repeatedly confessed before the Court of launching a new garbage and cleanliness campaign, yet the situation does not reflect the same, and within a very short span of time, the status-quo of garbage continues. Its also unique for the city, where Citizen sometime witnesses big Garbage truck competing with them on the ever narrowing road during the peak hours of the day. Imagine a biker's problem, who has unfortunately been stuck beside the foul-smelling these truck in a traffic jam while going for work !!! How will be his day ? The Court in this matter has repeatedly asked to follow the night shift for garbage collection to avoid any problem to citizens. The Bench even quoted that there is no much difference between 1994 and today in garbage collection, when it had taken cognizance of the issue for the first time.

The problem is much more worrisome than it look on the surface. The failure to collect all the garbage results in the accumulation of the garbage, which become the breeding centers of the mosquitoes and a meeting place for the dogs, pigs, buffaloes and cows. This not only affects the locals, but also gives a bad reputation for the City which is projecting itself as a metropolitan city. Some garbage finds their way in the drain, and bring havoc during the rainy season.  The presence of heaps of garbage on the corners of the roads sometime slows down the traffic movement. The initiative of the civic bodies to fine those who throw garbage on the road has not worked out clearly. The involvement of a private party- A2Z Infrastructure - for garbage management has also been a let down for the corporation.

Patna produce approximately 1000-tonne of garbage each day, and Corporation is definitely struggling to find a way to get all the garbage lifted up. Even more worrisome is the way, the garbage are handled once picked up. They are generally dumped beside the highways or By-Passes outside the City or in some empty areas in the vicinity of the City. The Corporation does not seems to have any plan for the proper disposal of the garbage. Taking an example, the Millennium Indraprastha Park of Delhi, which happens to be the longest park in Delhi, has came up on a huge sanitary landfill site which till the mid- 80s was meeting the needs of the City. A scientific approach towards garbage disposal and land reclamation has created this beautiful park. Has PMC  some plan of this sort for a city which is far short in the number of parks, and specially good parks ? The days does not seem far when one day, the neighboring vicinity people will come up against the garbage dumping in their locality, just like in case of Tiruvanthapuram, where the villagers in the vicinity of city's dumping ground came up against the Corporation in a violent way, leading to huge garbage heaping inside the City, troubling state government, municipal corporation, citizen alike, beside catching the attention of the nation.

The garbage disposal requires a scientific approach to deal with several social-economic aspect associated with it. A long term approach is very much required for the PMC, because as the city will expand in term of population and area, so does the quantum of the garbage and the conscience of the vicinity people where it will be being dumped. Without a clear cut strategy, the future for the PMC in garbage management will be very tough. It needs to come out from any dilemma, adopt the best practices existing in other part of the Country and abroad, and definitely shed its old-fashioned approach in garbage management.

[May 2013]