The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s new Solid Waste Management policy seems to be more of a knee-jerk reaction than a well thought-out plan, as it passes on the task of waste management to the general public without outlining clear solutions for the existing problem.

Apartment owners, in particular, have been badly affected by this new plan as apartment complexes have been labeled as ‘Bulk Generators’ by the BBMP, along with malls, shopping complexes, public offices, and convention halls.

So what does this mean for apartment owners?

It means that any apartment with more than 10 housing units is solely responsible for handling its own solid waste, and should have composting units to process the waste internally. Apartment owners now have to worry about installing and maintaining waste processing units, mainly due to an inconsiderate plan that has been cooked up overnight!

Why Apartments Can’t Operate Composting Units
The new policy being rolled out by the BBMP is unfair to apartments mainly because apartments now need to be equipped with composting units out of the blue.

This is hard, primarily due to the following factors.
1. Space Constraints
Most apartments in Bangalore have a predefined structure, with the entire area neatly sectioned according to the building plan. The need to accommodate a composting unit has thrown up a key problem in such apartments, which is the lack of space.

Residents in apartments from across the city are also irked as apartment associations weren’t consulted while this plan was being formulated, leading to widespread confusion on how these measures can be implemented.

2. Operational Constraints
Composting units, even if installed, need to be verified and checked to ensure that they adhere to the prevailing standards. Sewage treatment and composting units in Bangalore need to be verified by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the contractors need to be duly approved – but this is a factor that has not been distinctly outlined in the new SWM plan.

The plan doesn’t get into the finer details of which authority residents should consult while installing an STP or composting unit, or whether it is ecologically safe to have such units in a residential area. Apartments with garbage processing plants will generate huge quantities of compost too, and no plan for managing this widespread generation of compost has been specified.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has also not specified any waste management process for residents to follow, with clearly outlined steps like segregation, disposal, or recycling.

3. Financial Constraints
STPs and composting units need to be rigorously maintained, so the added cost of installing and maintaining these units will be passed on to the residents. Residents state that apartments need to spend INR 150000-200000 in order to run these composting units, and this will prove to be particularly expensive for smaller apartments that have fewer houses.

Residents who can’t install a composting unit need to pay the BBMP a standard fee to dispose their solid and wet waste, which is an additional expense that all residents should be willing to bear. Apartment owners view these rules as particularly unfair as independent houses and smaller apartments face none of these costs when it comes to waste management.

Is The BBMP Passing The Buck To Bangalore’s Citizens?
Legally, the BBMP is directly responsible for waste management and garbage collection in Bangalore, under Schedule II of the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules.

The BBMP is solely responsible for waste disposal in Bangalore

This is clearly defined under the rules set by the Ministries Of Urban Development and Environment and Forestry, which state that the BBMP should collect domestic, institutional and trade waste from the source, from every door or through a community bin. The corporation is also authorized to employ NGOs and private companies for help.

By making apartment residents accountable for waste processing, the municipal corporation is not fulfilling its fundamental duty of maintaining the civic assets of greater Bangalore.

In an analysis that deconstructs the SWM problem, Mr. Narayan Aras, one of the central figures representing the plight of apartment owners, states that all that residents need to do (as per the law) is initially segregate their dry and wet waste and keep them ready for the BBMP to collect. It’s not yet clear if the corporation has the authority to pass on its duty to the residents.

Certain residents are also worried that the introduction of private contractors into the picture will lead to the rise of garbage mafias that dictate varying charges for the collection and disposal or garbage. Apartment residents are likely to be at the mercy of these contractors, as failing to comply with the government’s rules can lead to basic amenities like electricity and water supply being cut off.

Mr. Aras has also stated that the term ‘Bulk Waste Generators’ that the BBMP has attributed to apartments is not an official one, as it does not feature in the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act (1976) or the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules (2000). This has apartment owners to question the conception and implementation of this new SWM plan.

Bangalore needs carefully planned waste management measures that are sustainable and devised with the city’s future in mind. With migrants pouring in and the population steadily increasing, only efficient long term plans can help in making the city a metropolitan haven.

Going by the current draft of the BBMP proposal, the road ahead seems to be a very long one.

This article is based on the inputs provided by Mr. Nagesh Aras of Sobha Aquamarine, Sarjapura Outer Ring Road, Bangalore who has been leading the STP related regulations for Apartments with KSPCB and now on the SWM rules. This article is to benefit the readers of our blog to get different perspective of problems that Apartment Complexes grapple with every day. The article does not necessarily indicate views of ApnaComplex.