Solid waste has become an urban issue that gives evidence to the greatly increasing economic activities in the municipalities and poses a challenge thereto. As both an issue and a challenge, it requires a collaboration of efforts from the government and the private citizens of the municipalities. Related issues that would have to be checked and considered as well include the need for a change in the people’s overall lifestyle, their manner of resource consumption and allocation of their increasing income.
The socio-economic, legal, health, environmental and cultural aspects of the municipalities would have to be revisited and made to contribute to the solid waste management programs of the government. (Jhaet. al. , 2007). Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is a type of waste that, in particular, is not carried by water or air. The Federal Government of United States of America defines solid waste as any discarded material that is not excluded (40 CFR 261. 2; Mihelcic and Hutzler, 1999).
Therefore, MSW is composed of the degradable, the partially degradable, and the non-degradable wastes.
Degradable MSW includes paper, textiles, food wastes, straw and yard wastes; partially degradable waste includes wood and sludge, and non-degradable wastes include leather, plastics, rubber, metal, glass, dust and electronic waste. (Jha et. al. , 2007). The collection and disposal of the domestic wastes – whether degradable or non-degradable – over a period of years over-burdens the landfill.
The continuous loading, dumping and subsequent accumulation of garbage all have a long-term effect on the environment (Sharholy et. al. , 2007). Hence, there is a growing awareness of the need to study the negative impact of solid wastes on the environment and human health, particularly in the areas adjoining the landfill sites (Srinivas, 1998). One city in India that is burdened by the dilemma caused by the rising volume of its MSW generation is Chennai. Chennai is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is located at 13.
04 degrees latitude and 80 degrees longitude in Southern India. It is one of the four major metropolitan cities in India – the other three being New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata – with a total area coverage of 174 sq km, 19 km in length and 9 km in width (Figure 1) (Chennai Map, 2000). The population in Chennai has reached five million. One of the oldest corporations in India is the Corporation of Chennai, which was established on the 29th of 1688 by the East India Company (COC, 2004). Corporation of Chennai is the civic body that governs the city of Chennai.
With the mayor as its head, the Corporation of Chennai has 155 councilors representing the 155 wards of the city. (Wikipedia) To do its mandate, the Corporation of Chennai has various departments attending to their respective duties and tasks. The departments are as follows: the Council Department, the General Administration, the Financial Management Unit, the Land & Estate Department, the Revenue Department, the Health Department, the Family Welfare Department, the Education Department, the Parks & Play Fields, and the Engineering Departments.
The latter, in turn, are namely as follows: the Works Department, the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Electrical Department, the Buildings Department, the Storm Water Drain Department, the Bridges Department, and the Solid Waste Management Department. (COC website) Thus, the Corporation of Chennai is involved in the general upkeep and administration of the city, and the SWM in Chennai is but one of its concerns.
The past 20 years has brought in industrial development to Chennai, and with it came both population growth and increased MSW generation (Esaku, 2007). The Corporation of Chennai has divided the area into ten zones for MSW collection and clearing (COC, 2004). The wastes generated by these ten zones are collected by either the Corporation of Chennai or the Neel Metal Fanlca, a private municipal solid waste collection body. The collection system involves getting the garbage through door-to-door visits and the setting up of garbage bins by the roadside in the streets.
The collected wastes are transported via heavy mechanical vehicles (HMVs) or light mechanical vehicles (LMVs) to the transfer stations or directly to the city’s two dump sites, namely, the Perungudi and the Kodungaiyur dump sites. These wastes are mostly yet to be segregated; they are predominantly made up of organic and debris wastes (Sharholy, 2008). The segregation of wastes, though, is not effectively achieved in Chennai as a whole. Source or domestic segregation is practiced in a few areas in Chennai. Such practice contributes to the recycling of wastes like paper, plastic and metals.
Still, it remains that the major contributors of recycled wastes are the rag pickers who collect wastes from the dumpsites and the municipal bins. Chennai, the fourth largest metropolitan city in India, currently faces the problem of having to efficiently handle and dispose of its growing volume of MSW (Esaku, 2007). The average volume of its generated MSW has increased from 600 tons/day to 3500 tons/day (Esaku, 2007). There has hitherto been no concrete and effective management measure taken to counteract this problem.
Chennai is also accounted for having the highest per capita waste generation in India (Sharholy, 2008). The inefficiency of the garbage collection system in Chennai is due to the improper distribution of manpower, the ineffective work force, the incompetent collection methodology, the lack of public awareness and the scarce civic sense among the people. My study focuses on determining whether the allotment of additional manpower and vehicles for MSW collection would improve the efficiency of the garbage collection and disposal system of Chennai.
My hypothesis is that proper allocation of manpower and vehicles to each zone, if implemented right by the Corporation of Chennai and the Neel Metal Fanalca, will significantly increase the efficiency of MSW collection and disposal in the city. My study would help the Corporation of Chennai and the Neel Metal Fanalca to improve the MSW collection and disposal in the city of Chennai. The city has been dubbed as “The City Beautiful” (COC website). To preserve its status as a place of beauty, the city government and its people should then act fast to solve the problems caused by the mounting volume of MSW continuously generated therein.