Urban local bodies (ULBs) around the country are warming up to the idea of deploying technology-based solutions to manage their various services including solid waste management (SWM). Civic agencies are increasingly relying on IT tools and advanced technologies to collect and transport the waste generated in urban areas. Technology uptake has increased significantly under central programmes such as the Smart Cities Mission and the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Smart Utilities takes a look at some of the key technology solutions adopted by civic agencies in the past few years…
ULBs have recognised the importance of technology in enhancing the existing waste collection infrastructure. Civic agencies have installed smart bins, which enable the segregation of waste at source and collection of a larger quantum of waste. These bins are being installed with GPS sensors to map their location.
In Gujarat, the Surat Municipal Corporation is planning to spend over Rs 200 million on converting 1,150 dumpsters in the city into smart underground bins. The Amritsar Municipal Corporation in Punjab is also installing smart bins in the congested and walled city area. In addition, a pilot project has been initiated by the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation in collaboration with Chennai-based Eco Garb International Company to install smart bins in the city. The cost of each covered bin, with a capacity of 1,800 kg of waste, is around Rs 150,000. Further, the state government has undertaken a pilot project to install smart bins in the Phagwara region. Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh government has installed its first authorised e-waste collection and handling unit in Visakhapatnam. Under this project, state-based Green Waves Recyclers has provided eco-bins for waste collection. An amount of Rs 5,000 has been spent on the installation of each bin.
Over the years, significant advancements have been made in the design of vehicles used for collecting and transferring municipal solid waste. An increasing number of ULBs are deploying modern vehicles such as tricycles and light commercial vehicles with hydraulic tipping containers, and vehicles with international standard collection bins for primary waste collection. To facilitate secondary waste collection, mobile garbage bins are being installed. These are designed to be lifted and emptied by mechanised container lifting equipment such as compactors or dumper placers. Such bins are suitable for bulk waste generators such as hotels and institutes, community centres or waste storage depots. ULBs are also using mobile compactors designed for transfer points on roads as well as in public places. The compactors are suitable for the collection of biodegradable and recyclable solid waste. Meanwhile, advanced secondary waste transportation vehicles are gaining popularity among civic agencies. Many ULBs, such as the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, are using skip trucks and dumper placers. These vehicles are used to transport dumper bins directly to the treatment or disposal sites. In addition, refuse collector vehicles with hydraulic tipping systems are being used to empty the contents of bins directly into the body of the vehicle.
Rear-loading compactor trucks are also being deployed for the transportation of waste from smaller transfer points to larger transfer stations, or directly to treatment or disposal sites. The loading hoppers on these trucks are used for unloading tipper vehicles and hand-held bins. In addition, they are equipped to compress 800-900 kg per cubic metre of solid waste, thus allowing the vehicle to carry a larger quantum of waste. Meanwhile, to directly transfer waste collected from households to secondary collection vehicles, municipal authorities are deploying minitrucks with tipping floors.
Several civic agencies, such as those in Delhi, Chennai and Guwahati, are expanding their SWM fleet by commissioning these smart waste collection and transportation vehicles in their cities.
Management information systems
Management information systems (MIS) such as radio frequency identification (RFID), GPS, geographic information system and general packet radio services have emerged as key tools for ULBs to track their waste collection and transportation vehicles.
The Surat and Pune municipal corporations have installed GPS on their respective waste collection vehicles. The civic agency in Pune has also deployed ultra high frequency RFID sensors on its fleet. Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has launched a programme called “Tracking and Monitoring of Municipal Solid Waste”. Under this, it monitors vehicle movements to ensure the timely lifting of garbage bins, and reduces fuel consumption by decreasing the number of trips taken by its SWM vehicles. Cities such as Lucknow and Panaji have similar initiatives on the anvil.
Through these solutions, which help monitor SWM vehicles, ULBs can resolve accountability issues, eliminate human error, improve surveillance systems, monitor the movement of vehicles and record real-time data regarding the number of trips and the amount of waste carried. In addition, monitoring helps reduce the incidence of route diversion and fuel thefts by vehicle drivers, and brings transparency in civic administration.
To encourage fleet monitoring, the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has signed three MoUs, under the Swachh Bharat Mission, with Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Mahangar Telephone Nigam Limited. The scope of work under the agreements involves the creation of eSBM, an IT platform that will be used by government agencies for effective reporting and monitoring of fleet status. This will be done with the help of GPS-enabled vehicle tracking systems, MIS for waste collection and transportation and real-time SMS delivery service to alert in case of vehicle breakdown.
Given the numerous benefits of using MIS tools, the MoUD has taken several measures to incentivise ULBs to deploy these solutions. For instance, under Swachh Survekshan 2017, one of the parameters on which cities were ranked was tracking of municipal vehicles carrying solid waste. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the ministry has allowed ULBs to meet their expenses for deploying such solutions from the capacity building and administrative and office expenses funds. These expenses will be funded under the mission for a period of six months and are not allowed to exceed Rs 1,500 per vehicle per month. Under this scheme, ULBs also need to ensure that the vehicle tracking system is integrated with the eSBM platform.
In a bid to improve the customer experience in cities, several mobile applications and internet portals have been launched for service provision and grievance redressal. The ministry has launched the Swachhata-MoUD mobile application, which focuses on addressing grievances of citizens on matters of public cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene. It allows users to post complaints regarding civic issues pertaining to the cleanliness of dustbins, toilets and garbage dumps, frequency of garbage vehicles, sweeping, blockages at public toilets, and lack of electricity and water supply in toilets. To ensure the timely redressal of such complaints, a 12-hour timeline has been determined.
While the Swachhata-MoUD mobile application operates at the national level by collaborating with city-based ULBs, several city-specific applications have also been launched. For instance, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has launched an application called “My City My Pride” for registering complaints related to solid waste management. The ULB officials are intimated about these complaints via another application called “BMC M-Office”, which lists the registered complaints under different categories based on their nature. For instance, issues regarding sanitation and street lighting will be placed under different categories. Similarly, the Delhi Cantonment Board has launched a mobile application called “Samadhan”. The application allows citizens to report and evaluate sanitation conditions in their areas, by registering complaints and tracking the status of grievance redressal.
Projects under the Smart Cities Mission
The smart solutions for SWM discussed above have been the key focus areas of civic agencies while implementing projects under the Smart Cities Mission. At present, a total of 30 projects focused on smart SWM are being deployed by the 60 cities selected under the mission. These projects broadly focus on deploying IT and monitoring solutions, smart bins and mobile applications. A total amount of Rs 3.68 billion is being invested in these projects.
Of this amount, a significant amount of Rs 2.56 billion is being directed towards equipping systems for monitoring and tracking the SWM fleet. This is followed by investments worth Rs 0.68 billion and Rs 0.44 billion for launching smart applications and installing smart bins respectively.
Advanced technology solutions for the collection and transportation of municipal solid waste have been widely accepted and deployed by civic agencies across the country. Not only do these solutions increase the efficiency of the SWM process, they also help ULBs enhance customer services. In addition, they bring in accountability and transparency, and enable civic officials to address the issues highlighted by the citizens in a timely manner. Going forward, more cities are expected to deploy such advanced waste collection and transportation facilities and monitoring solutions to enhance their operations.