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Waste management down in the dumps

  • Published at 02:43 am April 25th, 2017
  • Last updated at 09:24 am April 25th, 2017
Waste management down in the dumps
Dhaka city corporation authorities continue to face obstacles in transforming Dhaka into a clean city despite timely budget allocation. Various new projects have been adopted in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), and Local Government Division (LGD) to relieve residents of the stink of garbage, with no significant effects. None of the waste management projects have proven to be sustainable. According to a study carried out by the social business enterprise Waste Concern, nearly 4,500 tonnes of household wastes are produced daily in Dhaka. However, Dhaka South and Dhaka North city corporation officials say the amount is around 4,000 tonnes. Garbage spills out onto roads as residents often ignore waste bins, another reason why the city mayors’ initiative for a clean city seems a failure. The bins were placed on roads and footpaths, on inter-connecting roads, or in front of public parks, playgrounds, open spaces and educational institutions. [caption id="attachment_59813" align="aligncenter" width="850"]20170422_RajibDhar_0539-01 Garbage overflows around waste containers on Mirpur Road at Kalabagan in Dhaka, while a garbage collector dumps household waste into one of the containers. The photo was taken on Monday Rajib Dhar[/caption] STS project proceeds at snail’s pace City corporation authorities claim they struggle with managing waste, in particular completing the secondary transfer station (STS) project, due to a city plan implemented by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) being faulty because of insufficient land to temporarily dump waste. The STS project was started in 2013 to improve Dhaka’s waste management system. Under the project, funded by the World Bank, DNCC and DSCC planned to construct an STS to dump the waste in every ward. According to city corporation sources, construction was supposed to end in December 2015 but is incomplete owing to a lack of free space in the wards. Locals and land grabbers, who seized the lands allotted for the STS, also protested setting them up in their areas, further delaying the construction, the sources told the Dhaka Tribune. Failing to obtain the Department of Environment’s approval, DSCC cancelled three stations in Gulistan, Dhaka University and Kalabagan, they said. So far, DSCC and DNCC have set up a handful of STSs in public parks, such as Panthakunja in Karwan Bazar and Sheikh Russell Children’s Park beside Dhanmondi Lake. Meanwhile, a writ petition has been filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) against the construction of STS inside the park. Mini waste bin project a flop The city corporations implemented the mini waste bin project, in which bins were placed next to nearly every road to keep roadways clean and clear. However, within a year, the project failed due to a lack of consciousness of city residents. Rather than using the bins, people keep throwing garbage onto the roads and footpaths. Several bins also went missing from Panthapath, Farmgate, Mohakhali, Kakoli, Mirpur, Chankharpul of Gulistan, Jatrabari, and other areas. DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon had declared 2016 as the “Cleaning Year” in a press briefing on December 23, 2015. In the briefing, he disclosed a plan to set up the waste bin project. Nearly 12,000 bins were placed, with Tk8,000 on average spent for each bin. Waste-based power plants never saw light of day The proposed waste-based power station projects at Amin Bazar and Matuail landfills of DNCC and DSCC, respectively, were shut down due to insufficient funds. They closed after the Italian company Management Environment Finance SRL Ltd running them failed to provide the funds. As per the deal, the company should have begun construction within 130 days of the agreement. Though the deadline expired on June 28, 2013, the investor could not kick off the projects due to insufficient funds, said LGD, DSCC and DNCC officials. 3R waste management fails A Tk21 crore waste management project, financed by Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund, failed to reach its goal due to a lack of awareness and poor waste management systems. The Department of Environment reportedly undertook the 3R project in 2012. The initiative prescribes the 3R method – reduce, reuse, recycle – for better waste management, with four types of bins – coloured green, yellow, red and blue – for different forms of waste collected from Dhaka’s residential and commercial areas. On taking charge of DNCC, Mayor Annisul Huq said setting into motion the 3R method to manage the city’s waste is a must, though it has several challenges. As per the initiative, organic household waste would produce biogas and organic fertiliser, and inorganic waste, like plastic and glass, would be recycled. When contacted, DNCC Chief Waste Management Officer Commodore Abdur Razzak denied the blame placed on the city corporation’s weakness in managing waste. He told the Dhaka Tribune that they are working hard to properly manage household waste. “We placed only a few containers on the city roads due to insufficient space for unplanned urbanisation. Rajuk had left little free space for waste bins in every ward when founding residential areas like Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Uttara Model Town,” he said. Commodore Razzak said 52 secondary waste transfer stations had been built in DNCC, with a plan to set up three to four transfer stations in every ward. DSCC Chief Waste Management Officer Commodore MK Bakhtiar did not respond when contacted over the phone. Both mayors said they were working on recovering stolen land and the project would be completed soon. Annisul told the Dhaka Tribune that DNCC had sought the help of the authorities concerned in properly setting up the stations. “Many plots of different government bodies have been abandoned for years. We need 2-3 kathas [0.17-0.25 acres] from the plots, and hope to get a positive response from the ministries concerned,” he said. DNCC is planning to implement long-term waste management projects within two and a half years, he added. Khokon said: “We are trying to recover the grabbed lands allotted for the transfer stations and solve the problem immediately.” The DSCC will take proper steps to deal with the influential political figures blocking the project, he said. The transfer stations will be built on relatively higher foundations, with garbage containers on 70 feet by 70 feet raised platforms to prevent rainwater washing away the garbage, DSCC and DNCC officials said. Enclosed and environmentally friendly, the facilities will also include break rooms and bathrooms for the workers, they said.