The ambitious Malinya Muktham Nava Keralam initiative has improved the management of waste across the state during the last four months, warranting more material collection facilities (MCFs), Minister for Local Self-Governments and Excise M.B. Rajesh said today.
The mission aiming at making the state free of garbage by March 2024 also requires bigger fleet of vehicles that carry waste, he said after inaugurating a two-day zonal workshop for urban local bodies, organised by the Kerala Solid Waste Management Project (KSWMP) under the Malinya Muktham Nava Keralam.
“We also need more plants that process solid waste. And also landfills for their disposal,” the Minister told the ‘Maattam’ workshop, being attended by 300 delegates comprising elected representatives and implementation officers of 49 civic bodies across six central districts: Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram. Featuring extensive discussions on enhancing capacity of the solid waste management systems by going for smart, neat and clean solutions, the July 21-22 event at Hyatt Regency went on to host group discussion that are set to conclude on Saturday evening.
Rajesh noted that fund crunch has least been a hindrance before KSWMP to achieve its target, revealing that the state’s civic bodies were entitled to almost Rs 7,000 crore through various grants of both the state and central governments. “What we want are stronger leadership interventions from within the system and a change in public culture. There should be an end to the habit of dumping waste along streets. Also, garbage workers must be treated as professionals who are entitled to a dignified job environment,” he added at the opening ceremony that was chaired by Thrissur Mayor M.K. Varghese.
The Minister, noting that implementation of official orders merited stronger attention, called for arrangements which ensured domestic being transported not beyond the limits of the municipality or corporation.
Earlier, in an introductory session, Kerala Additional Chief Secretary Sarada Muraleedharan emphasised the need for scientific investments so as to ensure the “right results” in solid waste management. “We are doing a lot, but often there is a lack of aim and will power, which is checking us from achieving targets,” she said in a video address.
Noting that the chain of waste management has its loopholes, the senior bureaucrat called upon the officials to “faithfully” assess them so as to arrive at practical solutions. This is particularly vital for a consumerist state that is Kerala, where e-waste and sanitary waste are major challenges, she noted. “We should implement strategies bearing in mind that Kerala has a fragile ecosystem, which is all the more vulnerable owing to climate change.”
At the inaugural session, the Thrissur Mayor said his civic body was aiming to make the corporation area waste-free by this year-end. Kochi Mayor M. Anil Kumar, who was the chief guest, called for speedier implementation of the action plan, while ensuring that subsidies came with maintenance guarantee.
Kerala Municipal Chairman’s Chamber Chairman M. Krishnadas and Kerala Institute of Local Administration Director-General Joy Elamon were present at the ceremony, where KSWMP Deputy Project Director U.V. Jose delivered the welcomed address.
The event conducted six sessions on Friday, emphasising on making best use of modern technology and equipment to enhance the capacity of the waste-management units, given the dearth of land in urban areas. The speakers and other delegates examined the shortcomings in solid waste management in the local bodies, seeking ways to improve public awareness on the matter.
‘Maattam’, which sets a platform for a master-plan by urban bodies to attain sustainability in waste management, saw officials making presentations, followed by group discussion and project presentation. The topics include detailed plans for solid-waste management in accordance with the parameters prescribed in the National Solid Waste Management manual, achievements by local self-government institutions and the existing challenges, conceiving new waste-disposal projects, changes in consumer habit and rise in population in the next quarter century.
The first workshop under the Maattam series was held at Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram district on July 3, while the next leg is slated to be held at Wayanad.