Ramdas Kokare, Chief Officer of Karjat Municipal Council (KMC) has brought in a change by making Karjat town free from solid waste. He talks to Neha Basudkar about the implementation of zero waste management system in Karjat.
Please tell us a brief history of your work.
It started at Dapoli, Ratnagiri district where I was posted as chief of the municipal council from 2010 to 2012. I banned plastic carry bags, generated energy from waste, made the city litter-free, planted trees. We also took up 23 KW solar wind hybrid project. Then, I was posted at Ausa in Latur district from 2013-14. After plastic carry bags were banned, we took up lake conservation and stray cattle control programme. I was at Kej in Beed district from 2014 to 2015, but no major projects could be taken up as we had back-to-back elections. When I was in Vengurla from 2015 to 2017, we made the town plastic-free. We charted 27 ways to segregate waste and 450-acre dumping ground was transformed into a lush garden by reusing the garbage.
What are activities taken up in Karjat to achieve zero waste management?
I joined as Chief Officer of KMC on January 1, 2018. Within two days we implemented a strict ban on use of plastic carry bags. Within a few days people started segregating waste. They segregated waste in 16 ways and within 15 days segregating was done in 36 ways. Household waste was converted into biogas and through it, electricity generated for lighting 250 streetlights. Projects like treating nala water and reusing it for flushing, car wash and watering plants, installation of sewage treatment plant and connecting domestic sewers to main municipal drainage lines, were some of them.
What are the types of waste segregation?
Any waste does not convert into garbage on its own. We humans turn waste into garbage. If the waste is segregated at source, it will never turn into garbage and thus the menace can be avoided. I made a plan that every day of the week should be dedicated to segregate waste at its source. The garbage in Vengurla was segregated in 27 ways. Everyday wet waste, diaper, sanitary napkins, egg shells, organic waste, leaf and yard waste, coconut shell, human hair, metal waste, chicken and mutton waste, and leftovers of dead animals were segregated on a daily basis. Every Monday, paper, rubber tubes and thermocol were segregated. On Tuesday plastic and plastic bottles were separated in a bag. On Wednesdays glass bottles, other types of glasses, tyre are segregated. On Thursday cardboard, and on Friday plastic, clothes, shoes and sleepers are separated. On Saturday, electrical tube and bulb, e-waste like mobile, and mobile and batteries and other items and television sets and irreparable computers are separated.
But in Karjat the waste was segregated in 36 ways. Everyday wet waste, plastic, paper, chicken waste, human hairs waste, coconut shells, leaf and yard waste, diaper, sanitary napkin, egg shells, the leftover of animals, waste from mutton and fish market.
On Mondays, plastic bottles are separated. On Tuesday glass, tube light, bulb, broken glasses, broken bangles. On Wednesday cardboard, clothes, rexin bags and dishes are separated. On Thursday electronic waste, wire, mobile charger and television computer port are segregated. On Friday rubber, tyre, sleepers, shoes, ceramic, foam, scrap furniture is separated. And on Saturday thermocol and metals are separated.
What can be made of this segregated waste?
Recyclable items like plastic is used in making roads. In one km stretch of road 1 tonne of plastic ie equivalent to 1 million carry bags and saves Rs 10,000 per stretch. The dry and wet waste is processed with a ‘waste to energy’ approach. Kitchen waste is processed into biogas and dry waste is processed into briquettes, which are sold to factories as fuel. The coconut shells are burned and charcoal made from it, also hanging garden is made from it. A briquette machine helps process dry waste such as cloth, paper, cardboard into briquettes, which are sold to nearby industries as alternative fuels for boilers. Heavy plastic is sold to cement factories. The municipal council got support in private sector with banks and insurance companies chipping in to replace plastic with cloth carry bags, and providing waste collecting vehicles. Most of the items are sold and Rs 2 to 2.5 lakh revenue generated from it.
How did you convince residents to segregate waste at source and how did they follow it?
We made bye-laws for solid waste management as mandated under Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 for the project of zero waste management. Under the bye-laws, use of plastic bags of less than 50 microns was banned and attracted a fine of Rs 500. Littering and non-segregation were also fined. GPS was set up in all garbage collecting vans and two sanitary inspectors accompanied the garbage van to oversee segregation. People not following the rules and regulations are fined and that’s how we succeeded in making the segregation and zero solid waste management town. We achieved several awards in the category of green initiatives, plastic-free city and zero waste management town.
What advice would be given to other cities to apply the same formula to make zero waste management?
People have a tendency and take keen interest to abuse or talk negatively about other people trying to make positive developments. So the responsibility should be put on them. They should be fined if not following the rules and regulations. Daily segregation at source should be compulsory. If a sanitary inspector is sent along with the garbage van and people are orced to segregate waste at source then progress will take place.