In the recently declared results of Swachh Survekshan 2019, Surat has been declared the best city in solid waste management (SWM) in the more than million population category. This can be attributed to the modern SWM practices adopted by the city municipal authority. The initiatives that make the city a trendsetter in SWM include the deployment of smart garbage haulers, container lifting equipment and innovative underground garbage systems, which make door-to-door garbage collection highly efficient.
Door-to-door waste collection
The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has deployed about 425 smart garbage haulers on 900 routes across the city. Each of the vehicles is equipped with radio frequency identification tags along with GPS for tracking their movement on a real-time basis. This has helped the urban local body (ULB) in improving the productivity of vehicles, reducing non-compliance and optimising fleet utilisation. Other IT components such as hardware (servers), software and network devices have been installed at the control room to monitor activities through the dashboard and prepare a detailed analysis report for informed decision-making. The task of door-to-door garbage collection is outsourced to different agencies. Currently, five different agencies are working in eight zones to collect the city waste.
The SMC has placed large storage bins at various locations. Container lifting is carried out by SMC using its own vehicles and is also outsourced. Individual vehicles are assigned to collect the containers at a scheduled time. These vehicles pick up the filled up containers and replace them with empty ones. The filled containers are then taken to the transfer station, where the in and out time of vehicles is noted and weight is registered on entry and exit. The payment to the contractor is based on the trip. So far, around 1,100 containers have been deployed across the city.
Underground garbage system
One of the most innovative solutions adopted by SMC to tackle the issue of solid waste is the underground garbage system. The ULB has successfully installed 75 underground garbage bins across the city with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes each. Every bin has two openings or inlets, one for individuals to throw waste into and the other for municipal carts to collect waste from. In order to ensure efficiency in waste segregation, the bins are further divided into dry and wet waste categories.
These underground garbage bins are equipped with ultrasonic sensors for measuring the garbage level and sending alerts to the control room as soon as the container is 70 per cent full. The alerts are sent through an ICT-enabled GPS system deployed in bins as well as on trucks. These bins do not involve any human involvement and are lifted with the assistance of cranes. As a result, the workers do not come in to direct contact with the garbage, thereby enabling them to work in clean environment conditions.
The adoption of this system has resulted in an 8 per cent reduction in the transportation cost of garbage as it enables multiple containers to be emptied by a single vehicle. Besides the monetary benefits, the automatic lifting, emptying and washing of underground dustbins ensures zero spillage during transfer and allows reuse of bins. Further, the metal body prevents the penetration of water in these bins.
Other noteworthy initiatives
SMC has taken several other initiatives to ensure efficient SWM in the city. It has assigned separate vehicles to collect hotel waste from across the city. Around 300 hotels and restaurants have become a part of this initiative. Further, commercial and heavy traffic areas are covered under night scrapping and brushing.
In order to ensure cleanliness at all times, SMC workers sweep the designated locations during the day in two shifts. In the morning shift, individual sweeping is done, and in the afternoon shift, group cleaning is carried out. The garbage collected by these workers is dumped in the nearest container.
To promote cleanliness among citizens, SMC has launched a scheme under which grant is provided to housing societies for appointing a cleaning person. The garbage collected by these workers is dumped in the nearest container. A total of 862 societies (covering around 0.5 million square km area) are currently involved in the initiative.
Learning from experience
To tackle the waste menace, several other cities are trying underground garbage bins. While Mumbai and Chennai are at the planning stages, small cities such as Dharamshala, Panchkula and Dehradun have already adopted it.
Going forward, all cities need to work towards the integration of SWM and smart technologies in order to achieve zero waste discharge. Municipal corporations need to ensure greater citizen participation. To this end, mobile applications could be used to spread awareness about technologies being adopted to manage waste and expedite the waste management process.