In the face of mounting challenge, Nagaland ‘talks garbage’
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, July 6: Faced with massive garbage problem and fearing serious environmental and ecological hazards, Nagaland has been pushing towards making the state ‘plastic-free’ since it banned single-use plastic items in September 2019.
Intended to address issues connected to waste management, the 13th instalment of Morung lecture series on Saturday was themed: ‘Talking Garbage: Dealing with Waste in Nagaland.’ The series is an initiative of the local newspaper, The Morung Express.
Panellist, former programme director of State Investment Programme Management Implementation Unit, Kethoseo Haralu said there is no segregation of waste at the source in Dimapur; and despite door-to-door collection of waste in colonies, people continue to throw garbage everywhere, including into the streams.
According to him, the Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) has ‘managed to do away with some of the dust bins’, the target should be to turn Dimapur into a ‘zero-bin city.’ He pointed out that urban Dimapur alone generates 115 tonnes of waste every day, and 41, 975 tonnes annually.
While lauding the DMC’s effort, he wondered if those initiatives were indeed the answer to the mounting waste problem.
Another panellist and the administrator of DMC, Moa Sangtam said that wastes collected at the DMC dumping site—established in 1998—have not been treated.
In an attempt to address the issue, remediation of waste was started in July 2018 by introducing windrows and Bio Culture so that the waste, once segregated, can be mined and utilised accordingly. This, he said, was done with suggestion from a member of the Supreme Court Committee for Solid Waste Management.
Sangtam said that segregation at the source was a difficult task and under Swachh Bharat movement, two dustbins for segregation of waste were distributed at wards under DMC jurisdiction. According to him, the government was supposed to give 35,000 dustbins but the DMC received only 27,000.
Giving further detail about remediation of waste, Sangtam said the process was expensive as the DMC has to spend INR 35000 daily; and the Bio Culture, which is not available in the Northeast, costs INR 400 per 1 litre. He was of the view that the state government should assist the DMC. The municipal body, he said, is a self-generating body.
Sangtam said that attempts to segregate waste at source do not receive any community participation and 99% of the households do not bother to segregate waste.
“There is not enough manpower to clean the town twice in a day and no government can have enough manpower to clean the amount of waste we throw irresponsibly; DMC is spending INR 20 lakh a month on around 200 sanitation workers out of the 363 DMC staff. The salary component of DMC is INR 72 lakh and even if DMC generates INR 1 crore a month it is not enough,” Sangtam shared.
In regards to the total ban on single-use plastic products, Sangtam said that the DMC is preparing for it by imparting training on making paper bags to women and NGO workers.
The editor of Nagaland Today, Bano Haralu drew the attention of lawmakers/policymakers as she remarked that the special provision of Article 371 (A) for Nagaland comes into play as it involves the land and its use. She said that ownership comes with responsibility as well as accountability; and that people should not only expect but also contribute.
Haralu cited the wide coverage given by the newspapers in Nagaland on the issue of garbage. However, the lack of response from the people to those news reports has been disappointing, she said.
Every individual is responsible for every unpleasant garbage pictures that emerges on social media platforms, she said and urged policymakers, institutions, stakeholders to consider enforcing certain rules and guidelines.
The publisher of Morung Express Akum Longchari observed that human beings are at the centre of garbage management despite the numerous ways and technologies to deal with it.
Longchari observed that Naga society has not reached the relationship of partnership, as we have always been dependent; and the question of relationship needs to be pondered upon.
“Unless we start nurturing relationship of partnership, it will be difficult. Naga society is driven by petty shrewdness and that is why leadership takes a backseat,” he remarked.