Clean Sweep

Indore retains its top ranking for the third year running

Indore has emerged as the cleanest city under the recently declared results of Swachh Survekshan 2019, for the third consecutive year. Indore’s rise to the top from a dismal 149th position in 2014 has been enabled by the Indore Municipal Corporation’s (IMC) emphasis on waste segregation and door-to-door waste collection. Currently, the city boasts of 100 per cent door-to-door garbage collection and waste segregation at source.

For the third ranking survey, IMC mainly focused on reducing waste generation in the city. It followed the 3R approach – reduce, recycle and reuse. As a result, it was successful in reducing the waste generation from 410 per gram per capita to 402 per gram per capita. Moreover, Indore has been made a no-landfill city with the removal of 1.5 million tonnes of legacy waste in a six-month period and has successfully reclaimed 100 acres of land.

A look at the smart waste management initiatives taken by Indore over the years…

Binless city

In order to tackle the waste menace, IMC adopted a novel approach to make the city binless. It ensured garbage collection twice a day, morning and evening. Each household segregates the garbage into wet, dry and biomedical waste, which is dumped into their respective compartments in the garbage collection vans. These garbage collection vehicles are capable of carrying 1 tonne of waste, that is, waste generated by around 1,000 households. Once the garbage is collected, these vans proceed to a transfer station, where the weight of each van is recorded by driving through a weighing bridge. The waste is then dumped into an auto-tipper, which tilts the waste into separate hook loaders. The waste is compressed and taken to the central processing unit in Devgurodia.

As of November 2018, the city was served by 535 vehicles, which carry waste from residential areas, and 84 compactor vehicles, which collect the waste from commercial areas. The compactor vehicles pick up bulk waste generated by restaurants and other enterprises. Any establishment generating more than 20 kg of waste a day is considered to be a bulk waste generator. Such units are supposed to process their own wet waste. Currently, there are around 424 bulk waste generators in the city treating their own wet waste.

Earlier, in the absence of door-to-door collection, the residents would put their garbage in plastic bags and throw them into public dustbins. As a result, heaps would accumulate over days with strays and ragpickers taking out their due share and leaving the rest of the surroundings unpleasant. This scenario has completely changed with the city’s accomplishment of 100 per cent door-to-door collection and waste segregation.

ICT-based interventions

IMC has launched Safai Mitra, a mobile application to overcome waste management challenges. The app provides data on primary and secondary waste collection. Further, the mayor helpline and application, available in both English and Hindi, is used for the redressal of waste management complaints. Most of these complaints are resolved within 48 hours. Moreover, newspapers, radio, TV channels, and various social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are used to create awareness about waste management practices.

Putting waste to use

What sets Indore apart from other cities is the way it manages its waste. The green waste generated from the Choithram market, approximately 20 tonnes per day, is sent to a biogas plant. It is used to produce 2,400 cubic metres of methane gas, which is converted to compressed natural gas. By the end of 2019, the city plans to set up three more biogas centres near sources of organic waste. Two other city markets, Nandlal Pura and Rajkumar, have been composting their waste on a daily basis.

The city has taken innovative measures to manage plastic waste. The plastic bags first go through a blower for removing the dust and then shredded. The finely shredded plastic is passed through a human-operated machine, which melts and moulds it into plastic bricks. These bricks are sold to the government and further reused to make pavement tiles and drainpipes. Some of the shredded and purified plastic is also sent to the Madhya Pradesh Rural Road Development Authority for road construction.

Learning from the best

Indore is a shining example for other cities grappling with waste management issues. The innovative practices adopted to manage waste can be replicated by other urban local bodies (ULBs) while modifying them as per the requirements of their respective cities.

Indore’s consistent performance can also be attributed to good urban governance. IMC has been successful in inculcating a sense of discipline and accountability within municipal workers and has ensured citizen participation in its pursuit of a clean city. ULBs in other cities can draw from the working of IMC.

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