With the Uruli-Devachi garbage fiasco still in recent memory, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) seems to be finally taking alternative methods of garbage disposal seriously. In a first, the civic body is widely publicising its new decision to provide free guidance and consultations to housing societies to install, use new techniques to manage and maintain vermicomposting units. Several posters and pamphlets have been printed to target the more than 40,000 (registered and unregistered) societies in the city, of which around 22,000 societies are estimated to already carry out vermicomposting on their premises. Moreover, a study by PMC has also found that most of these residential complexes have failed to carry out proper composting till date, due to lack of maintenance and usage of old techniques.
Suresh Jagtap, head of PMC’s solid waste management department, said, “We are promoting vermicomposting in societies to solve garbage problems within their premises, and we have also found that most existing units are not at all well-maintained. So, we will now provide expertise and new techniques, as we have found that many people have no knowledge of new technologies, like bio gas, or higher capacity machinery that they could use for composting on a larger scale. We have been getting a decent response from old and new societies — PMC also gives rebates in property tax bills if one sets up vermicomposting, rainwater harvesting or solar panel system units. Most societies choose the former two options, as they are relatively cheaper.”
When Pune Mirror spoke to some housing societies about this initiative, there seemed to emerge more bouquets than brickbats. Sachin Walimbe, chairman of Blue Spring Society in Katraj, said, “Giving free consultations to set up vermicomposting projects in societies is a great step. For instance, we don’t know how it works, besides the basic information that we have to build a pit to dump garbage in. Learning about advanced technique is a welcome move.” Echoed Sudhir Shirole, chairman of the Shiv Shakti Apartments in Vishrantwadi, “We have already spoken to PMC about sharing information to install a vermicomposting unit. We will try to understand the estimated expenditure for a unit and what the maintenance procedure — this is all a good initiative.”
The city generates some 1,600 tonnes of garbage every day, of which at least 500 tonnes goes to Uruli-Devachi garbage depot for scientific capping. Most of the garbage PMC deals with is disposed of using mechanical composting, bio-gas systems, microorganisms, and composting to generate electrical power and other by-products. In 2008, the corporation introduced rainwater harvesting, vermicomposting and solar panel systems under its ecohousing project scheme; it also gives a 5-10 per cent rebate on property tax for those who undertake these environmentally conscious projects.