Feature: Indore can be a lesson to Kathmandu in solid waste management

INDORE- Roads are clean and free of garbage and dusts. They are lined with trees on the sides, and the regular watering takes place. Authorities of Indore in Madhya Pradesh, India have come up with an effective solid waste management while the residents seem to be much aware.

The city climbed up from rank 149 out of 476 town and cities of India to number one on the government’s Swachhata Sarvekshan (cleanliness survey) rankings in 2017. It continued to manage to remain the cleanest city for the 6th time in a row as of 2023. The local government has been much effective in making the city clean by managing trash while the provincial and federal governments have supported.

Influenced by the exemplary work of Indore, other cities are following suit. The Government of India has made publicity of the work done by Indore to influence other cities to follow suit, and experiences have been exchanged. Around 1,104 km away from Kathmandu, the federal capital of Nepal, the journey of Indore from one of the most polluted cities to cleanest one may be an inspiration and a lesson to many including Kathmandu, country’s most polluted city.

During his official visit to India recently, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ visited Indore and Ujjain, the most developed and clean cities of India. The two cities which bring in thousands of tourists annually have their own specialties and importance. Indore has practically implemented the saying ‘turning waste into wealth’ apart from cashing in on religion tourism, information technology and industrial development. How the once most polluted city took a stride in being clean in a short span of time? PM Dahal’s entourage tried to learn the success story of Indore.

Many awareness programmes proved much effective. ‘Khule main nahi karna, uncle), says a small-sized person in a television advertisement asking an adult to stop urinating or defecating in the open. ‘Dabba gang’ also proved much effective wherein young volunteers would make a noise as a warning to those urinating or defecating in public as part of their awareness plans like ‘roko aur toko’ (interrupt and stop) and ‘hum to bilkul besharam ho gaya’ (we would not be embarrassed).

These efforts helped the Indore municipal corporation (IMC) a lot. During 2015 and 2016, it built and repaired 17 mobile units, 230 urinals, 13,000 household toilets, 400 modular toilet seats and 243 community and public toilets. The largest city of Madhya Pradesh with a population of 3.5 million is now dustbin-free despite generating around 1,900 tons of garbage on a daily basis. Garbage is segregated into various eight categories at the source itself. Waste is categorised as biodegradable, non-biodegradable, medical waste. The vehicles with various compartments for different types of waste reach the destination to pick up garbage every day. More than 500 vehicles reach and collect garbage from households and business establishments at 85 wards of the city. S

eparate vehicles have been designed for collecting waste from meat and fish shops. Ten automatic transfer centres have been established for managing garbage collected in the first phase. Sewage is treated at plants and converted into compost and construction materials that are used for many purposes like in gardens. The IMC has made separate laws for managing trash from different sources. It has managed separate provision to manage waste from hotels and restaurants, and health facilities. A plant has been set up in a vegetable market which produces biogas from waste from the city’s largest vegetable market. The vegetable market produces 20 to 25 tons of waste on a daily basis.

The plant produces 1,000 kilograms biogas on a daily basis, which are used in running city buses, according to the IMC officials. The remnants from the treatment of waste will be used as compost. The city has taken advantage from this in two ways by saving a large chunk of money spent on purchasing fuels, and getting increasing agricultural productions through the use of compost. Rotten leaves and parts of plants on the roadsides and in the gardens have also been converted into compost.

A separate mechanism has been created to manage waste from salons. An organic waste converter machine has been set up at Nehru Park and Indore Zoo to treat waste from them. Garbage collected from the Park and Zoo is treated into compost. Plastic crushing machines have been set up to manage plastic waste. Dustbins have been kept in public vehicles. Special vehicles deployed by the IMC clean up the roads around four times a day. The residents have been encouraged to treat biodegradable waste into compost.

In some cases, entrepreneurs with permission from the IMC reach households and buy non-biodegradable waste. Trash is treated and reused for various purposed like producing cement plants and plastic materials. More than 600 tons of waste collected on a daily basis go to the special garbage procession centre, out of which 80 tons compost is produced. The compost is sold for INR 2 per kg without packaging, and for INR 3 with packaging. Consumers are farmers. Leftovers are used for plants in local parks and on the roadsides, according to the IMC officials. Separate plants have been set up to process waste from households. The garbage is treated to produce bricks and blocks for road construction which the IMC uses for the construction purpose.

Vehicles carrying garbage are fitted with GPS devices, and plastic bags below 50 microns have been banned. A 60 megawatts solar power plant has been installed. This is just the beginning. There is a long way to go, said the IMC chief executive officer Harshika Singh. Indore has earned around INR 100 million from selling carbon credits. During the visit, PM Dahal visited and observed the waste management centre, the biogas production site and the waste treatment plant. On the occasion, PM Dahal said Indore could be an inspiration for Nepal in the effective management of solid waste. A team from the Government of Nepal would be sent to Indore to take stock and learn about the management of waste, he further said.

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