Waste Management

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Waste. We give such little importance to this word. Every time we don’t require something we dispose it of in the waste. But do we ever give a thought as to how the waste is disposed? Not really. But waste disposal as well as waste management poses a great environmental threat to our city.


Mumbai has a population of over 13 million people. Obviously such a huge population is bound to generate a huge amount of waste; the management of which is a huge task for the local administration. Mumbai generates approximately 7,025 tonnes of waste per day. The waste consists of mixed waste and of debris and silt. The mixed waste which is bio degradable and recyclable is also called as wet waste and dry waste respectively. It mainly consists of vegetable and fruit remainders, leaves, spoiled food, eggshells, cotton, etc. Recyclable (dry waste) consists of newspapers, thermocol, plastic, battery cells, wires, iron sheets, glass, etc. Debris includes construction waste, renovation waste, demolition waste, etc. Silt comprises earth and clay from drains and road corners.


The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) which is formally responsible for the management of waste in the city collects waste from the community bins and disposes it at one of the three main dumping grounds in the city which are currently functional. A dumping ground is a generally low lying and marshy area where there is no human population. The three grounds in Mumbai are located at Gorai, Deonar and Mulund. The one at Deonar is the largest. The average life of a dumping ground is 30 years and it has been predicted that the capacity of the three dumps in Mumbai will expire in 2010.


The waste at the dumping ground is covered with debris and spread evenly in layers. The organic waste undergoes natural decomposition and generates a fluid, which is known as leachate, and is very harmful to the ecosystem, if not treated properly. The leachate penetrates the soil and, if not prevented, pollutes the ground water. Also, flies, mosquitoes and many other pests breed on the waste and unless properly maintained, the dumps are a public health hazard.


The average life of a dumping ground is 30 years and it has been predicted that the capacity of the three dumps in Mumbai will expire in 2010. Then what? The obvious solution would be to look for new dumping grounds. But with the prices of land sky high, this solution may prove to be unaffordable. So what can be done in order to prevent further harm to the environment?


Firstly, people need to be made aware of the gravity of the problem. They need to be taught how to dispose of wet and dry waste separately. The disposal of wet and dry garbage separately should be enforced as a law and some sort of fine should be imposed for the law breakers. Then people should be encouraged to reduce their waste by reusing as much as possible and then recycling as much as possible. Minimization of waste through home composting, vermi-composting, biogas generation should be encouraged. The government can take the help of NGO’s to tackle this problem. Thus if the people decide to, they can combat this extremely serious problem of waste management.


Jumana Dohadwala

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/thaths/1626466672/]

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