Queen of Hills Shimla grapples with garbage owing to MC’s complete failure in managing waste
In 2015, when rest of the country is putting a fight against garbage, littering, and proper waste disposal, Shimla, also known as the ‘Queen of Hills’, summer capital of the British India and now an international tourist destination, stands embarrassed as the Municipal Corporation of Shimla under the state government of Himachal Pradesh has completely failed to provide even basic waste management facilities like daily garbage collection.
As a regional media reports, in 2012, SMC had established a 100 metric ton capacity waste treatment plant in Bharyaal on Totu -Taradevi bypass in collaboration with a private contractor. SMC had claimed that plant is equipped with ultra-modern machinery that will convert waste into fertilizers.
After one year of its commissioning, irregularities were reported by locals as the area started to stink.When, members of a regional social activist group tried to enter the plant, they were not allowed saying photography is strictly prohibited due to fear of technology-theft.
In 2014, headed by the Totu Vikas Sameeti, locals approached the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. People alleged that garbage that arrived at the treatment plant was not being processed properly. The garbage was either set on fire or left to degrade and stink. Despite having a plant, Shimla’s garbage management did not improve. Rather, it kept worsening with time.
In 2015, the plant was surrounded by untreated garbage. After questions were raised regarding working of the treatment plant, on a fine day SMC reported that the contractor set the garbage and the plant on fire and fled away. The plant was found completely deserted. An FIR was lodged alleging that contractor has taken some expensive machines with him too.
The garbage kept burning for days due to which smoke surrounded nearby areas and unbearable stink troubled locals. The fire-brigade also failed to extinguish the smoldering garbage.
As the capital city had lost its only waste treatment plant, therefore, NGT had to direct the SMC to send its daily waste to another treatment plant at Dadu Majra in Chandigarh, run by Jaiprakash Associates Limited. The NGT’s order came on October 1, 2015. Thereafter, for past few weeks, SMC has spent lot of public money in transporting city’s daily garbage to Chandigarh in trucks.
SMC faced another embarrassment when Chandigarh MC Commissioner Bhawna Garg put the contractor of waste treatment plant on notice for accepting garbage from outside Chandigarh without informing the MC and said, “We do not want Shimla’s garbage.”
The commissioner further added,
Chandigarh is itself facing problems in dealing with the garbage problem and it will not be easy for us to process garbage from Shimla.
According to RD Sharma, in-charge of the processing plant in Chandigarh,
The plant is already treating nearly 250 tonnes of waste from Chandigarh. The additional 60 tonne waste coming from Shimla will burden the plant further. Also, Shimla MC will have to bear huge transportation charges daily for disposing of the solid waste at Chandigarh which 100 km away. This arrangement doesn’t appear viable.
Chandigarh MC challenged NGT’s order by claiming that it is facing losses worth lakhs due to additional tons of waste received daily from Shimla. The MC Commissioner also asked Shimla to pay heavy processing fee if it want to continue sending garbage. Thereafter, a stay was put on transportation of garbage until next hearing of NGT.
Meanwhile, Shimla is grappling with garbage. About 500 sanitation workers and daily garbage collectors under Shimla Environment, Heritage Conservation and Beautification (SEBH) society were on a long strike due to unsatisfactory payments and working conditions. The SMC failed to find any solution through negotiation talks and issued a notice warning SEHB workers to either join the duty or face permanent suspension.
Rebuked by people, NGT, and government, the SMC has assured establishment of new waste treatment facility in next three months. Meanwhile, Shimla’s garbage is on public display.
Stray dogs at the Shimla Mall
Stray cows, dogs and monkeys can be seen feasting on domestic and commercial garbage dumped on roadsides. Although, SMC had declared the city dumper free, it had to place dumpers again. These dumpers are nowadays packed with garbage, overflowing onto roadsides.
The city is also facing regular sewer leakages and there is no sewer treatment plant in the city as well. So, Shimla city is literally stinking.
Pool of sewage due to leakage
The heaps of garbage have resulted in growth of stray dog and monkey population in the city. On the top of it, there isn’t even a single dog-shelter in the capital. The animal birth control policy has also met miserable failure owing to half-hearted sterilization programs.
Image Credits: Himachal Watcher