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Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478

Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Waste Management journal homepage:

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Waste Management

journal homepage: www.else ate/wasman

journal homepage: www.else ate/wasman Country Report Solid waste management in Kolkata, India:

Country Report

Solid waste management in Kolkata, India: Practices and challenges

Tumpa Hazra, Sudha Goel *

Civil Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur 721302, India

article info

Article history:

Accepted 17 January 2008 Available online 22 April 2008


This paper presents an overview of current solid waste management (SWM) practices in Kolkata, India and suggests solutions to some of the major problems. More than 2920 ton/d of solid waste are generated in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) area and the budget allocation for 2007–2008 was Rs. 1590 million (US$40 million), which amounts to Rs. 265/cap-y (US$6.7/cap-d) on SWM. This expenditure is insufficient to provide adequate SWM services. Major deficiencies were found in all elements of SWM. Despite 70% of the SWM budget being allocated for collection, collection efficiency is around 60–70% for the registered residents and less than 20% for unregistered residents (slum dwellers). The collection process is deficient in terms of manpower and vehicle availability. Bin capacity provided is adequate but locations were found to be inappropriate, thus contributing to the inefficiency of the system. At this time, no treatment is provided to the waste and waste is dumped on open land at Dhapa after collection. Lack of suitable facilities (equipment and infrastructure) and underestimates of waste generation rates, inad- equate management and technical skills, improper bin collection, and route planning are responsible for poor collection and transportation of municipal solid wastes.

2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Environmentally acceptable management of municipal solid waste (MSW) has become a global challenge due to limited re- sources, an exponentially increasing population, rapid urbaniza- tion and worldwide industrialization. In developing Asian countries, these factors are further exacerbated by inadequate financial resources, and inadequate management and technical skills within municipalities and government authorities. More than 90% of the MSW generated in India is directly dis- posed on land in an unsatisfactory manner ( Das et al., 1998 ). The problem is already acute in cities and towns as disposal facilities have not been able to keep pace with the quantum of wastes gen- erated. It is common to find large heaps of garbage lying in a dis- organized manner in every nook and corner in large cities. Kolkata is one of India’s largest metropolitan cities and like other large cities faces similar problems of poor solid waste manage- ment. The objective of this paper is to analyze some of the strengths and deficiencies in the current MSW management (MSWM) system in Kolkata and propose feasible solutions.

Abbreviations : MSW, municipal solid waste; SWM, solid waste management; FICCI, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry; KEIP, Kolkata Environment Improvement Project; CEIP, Calcutta Environment Improvement Project; WHO, World Health Organization; NEERI, National Environmental Engi- neering Research Institute; CDM, Clean Development Mechanism; TERI, Tata Energy Research Institute * Corresponding author. Tel.: +91 3222283436; fax: +91 3222255303. E-mail address: (S. Goel).

0956-053X/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


2. Municipal solid waste (MSW) management in KMC

Kolkata is a metropolitan city and capital of the state of West Bengal. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of River Hoo- ghly. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) area has a popula- tion of almost 6 million and an area of 187 km 2 , while the Kolkata urban area has a population of over 14 million. Solid waste management is a statutory function and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is responsible for the management of MSW generated in the city. The city is divided into 15 boroughs and 141 electoral wards and all operations of solid waste manage- ment (SWM) in this area are performed under four heads – sweep- ing, collection, transportation and disposal – and are shown schematically in Fig. 1 . KMC has allocated Rs. 1590.35 million (US$40 million) on solid waste management for 2007–2008 ( KMC, 2007–2008 ), which is 13.75% of its total annual budget; for perspective in international terms, 1 US dollar is currently Rs. 39.40. This budget allocation is low in comparison to other Indian cities like Asansol (44.7%), Agra (30.39%), Patna (29.36%) and Varanasi (27.8%) ( FICCI, 2007 ). Pres- ent estimates of expenditure on MSWM range from Rs. 258 to Rs. 431 per capita (US$6.5 to US$10.9 per capita), annually in various Indian cities ( FICCI, 2007 ). KMC spends Rs. 265 per capita (US$6.7 per capita) annually on MSWM, while annual expenditure on water treatment and supply and wastewater treatment is Rs. 243.71 (US$6.17) and Rs. 141.43 (US$3.6) per capita ( KMC, 2007– 2008 ), respectively. The revenue earned from MSWM is only Rs. 2.81 (US$0.07) per capita. Despite the fairly high expenditure, the

T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478


House to House Collection Tipper Hand Trucks Carts Street Small Bins Community Pay Disposal Sweeping
House to House
Small Bins

Fig. 1. Schematic representation of solid waste management in KMC.

present level of service in many urban areas is so low as to be a po- tential threat to public health and environmental quality.

2.1. Sources and quantities of MSW

Major sources of MSW in the KMC area are residential areas, commercial/market areas, offices and institutions. Field surveys were carried out by CEIP in 2000 and by KEIP in 2003 to assess the status of MSW generation in the KMC area. Kolkata city gener- ates approximately 2920 ton/d i.e., 0.632 kg/cap-d of MSW daily. KMC has estimated the amount of MSW generated from various sources in the city, shown in Table 1 .

2.2. Collection and storage of solid waste

Due to climatic factors like high temperature and humidity along with high organic matter content, MSW decomposes rapidly resulting in unhygienic conditions. Hence in most areas, collection has to be done on a daily basis. Currently, different collection methods are being used in KMC and include: house-to-house col- lection (primary collection), and collection from roadside storage areas (3-sided enclosures). The remaining waste is disposed on va- cant land and in canals. The percent distribution of areas covered by different collection and disposal methods in the KMC area is shown in Table 2 : 57–71% of wastes from registered houses which include standard residential areas, refugee colony and registered slums are covered by door-to-door service provided by KMC, while

Table 1 Percent distribution of municipal solid waste from different sources in KMC

Sources of waste

Percentage (%)

Household waste Street sweeping Institutional waste Commercial and market waste





Source : Master plan on solid waste management ( KEIP, 2003 ).

only 13.3% of the population in unregistered slums is covered by the same service; and 1–12% wastes from registered houses and 6.1% from unregistered slums are deposited in roadside storage enclosures for corporation pick-up. The remaining waste is left unattended on vacant land and in a canal due to inefficient collec- tion and lack of awareness amongst the public. In the KMC area, street cleaning and collection involves collec- tion of MSW from the streets (road sweeping) and households in handcarts. Thereafter, the waste is dumped at one of the 664 col- lection points (primary collection). MSW is then loaded into trans- portation vehicles (trucks) (secondary collection), which transport the waste (transfer) to disposal sites.

2.2.1. Primary collection of municipal solid waste House-to-house collection of waste and collection of road litter are together defined as primary collection. For better solid waste management, each ward is divided into 7–10 blocks and 8–10 sweepers are provided in each block. A handcart or tricycle, a broom and a scraper are provided to each sweeper to sweep the roads, lanes and by-lanes, to clean open drains, collect the waste, load it into the handcart and transfer the same to a secondary col- lection point in the form of open storage enclosures or dumpers ( KEIP, 2003 ). Fig. 2 a shows road sweeping with collection in a con- tainerized handcart. Containerized handcarts having four buckets of 40–50 L have been introduced in some wards to transfer waste collected into large containers ( Fig. 2 b). After sweeping the roads, sweepers go from house-to-house with the handcarts ( Fig. 2 c) and call the residents with a whistle signal to bring their wastes. MSW produced from individual households is taken to the collec- tion point or just deposited at the adjacent roadside from where it is collected when the roads are swept. This house-to-house col- lection system has been introduced in all 141 wards covering 50– 70% of registered households in the KMC area. Sometimes, resi- dents deposit their waste directly into the roadside community bins for corporation pickup ( Fig. 3 ). There are about 10,300 sweep- ers to sweep 3275 km of road ( KEIP, 2003 ). Some major roads are occasionally cleaned with street washing vehicles. However, mech- anized sweepers, besides being capital intensive, are observed to yield a low cleaning efficiency due to uneven road surfaces.

2.2.2. Storage of solid waste KMC has provided 664 storage places (in the form of large ma- sonry storage enclosures, trash bins, and dumpers ( Fig. 3 )) for tem- porary storage of MSW, which is collected from the city during secondary collection. Large masonry storage enclosures are open spaces enclosed on three sides with a masonry wall of about 1.2– 1.8 m height, with capacities ranging from 30 to 60 m 3 and located in congested areas with narrow winding streets. Waste is brought to these depots in handcarts during primary collection while trucks can drive into these areas and pick-up waste from here for disposal to the landfill site. These large storage enclosures can also be thought of as transfer stations even though they are not formally designed for compaction, nor do they have equipment for separa- tion or processing.

Table 2 Distribution of collection methods in different dwellings types in KMC

Collection method

Standard residential (%)

Refugee colony (%)

Registered slum (%)

Unregistered slum (%)

All categories (%)

Corporation pick up from door-to-door Deposit in road-side vat Disposal on vacant land (no further pickup) Disposal in canal (no further pickup) Others All































Source : Base line picture of city of Kolkata ( KMC, 2003a; 2003b ).


T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478

472 T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478 Fig. 2. Road Sweeping (a),

Fig. 2. Road Sweeping (a), regular handcarts (b) and containerized handcarts (c).

The density of wastes in Indian cities varies from 280 to 660 kg/ m 3 while the KEIP estimate is 600 kg/m 3 . The available capacity of the storage areas in KMC is around 23,400 m 3 . If the density of the waste at the collection point is assumed to be 450 kg/m 3 , then the available capacity is more than adequate for a daily collection fre- quency, which requires a minimum container capacity of 7300 m 3 . KMC aims to provide daily collection, but overflowing bins are com- mon features throughout the city, despite the excess storage capac- ity. A major factor responsible for this problem is the frequency of collection. In practice, the collection frequency is less than the de- sign requirement (daily); in many cases collection is on a weekly ba- sis. Another major factor is the location of the bins. These locations are decided without considering vehicle accessibility, population density or rate of waste generation in the local service area.

2.2.3. Secondary collection of MSW Presently, mixed waste (biodegradable and recyclable) is col- lected from residential, commercial and market areas and brought to collection points, which may be small bins or large bulk contain- ers (dumpers) that are painted yellow (42%) or open storage enclo- sures (58%) ( Fig. 3 ). Waste is directly loaded from these containers into trucks or trailers manually or using pay loaders ( Fig. 4 ). This step is known as secondary collection. Pay loaders cannot collect all the waste from the storage enclosures, since some manual cleaning is required. They tend to break the edge of the storage enclosures and that spills waste when loading. Pay loaders also of- ten find it difficult to operate in the narrow cramped streets of KMC’s area ( Fig. 4 ). Currently, pay loaders are used to collect waste from only 5% of the total collection points, while the remaining col- lection is done either manually or by private agencies (mostly manual operations).

KMC has a total of 245 conservancy vehicles for transporting and collecting (secondary stage) MSW. These vehicles include trucks, dumper placer vehicles, tractor trailers ( Fig. 5 ), refuse collectors, tip- per trucks, and pay loaders, of which about 180 are in working con- dition. Out of these 180 vehicles, only 120–130 vehicles are operated daily duemainly to a lack of drivers and laborers. Therefore, the vehi- cle operational efficiency is less than 50% ( KEIP, 2003 ). Waste trans- portation is conducted with vehicles like tipper trucks of 6–8 m 3 and 10–12 m 3 capacity (manually andmechanically loaded) and dumper placers of 4.5 m 3 and 7.0 m 3 capacities. KMC transports around 40% (550 ton) of the total waste collected using dumper placers and the rest by tipper trucks. The required numbers for dumper placers and tipper trucks were determined to be 80 and 70, respectively, but availability is 49 and 65, respectively. These data demonstrate the inadequacy of both manpower and resources, which plagues MSWM in KMC and most other cities in the country. The routes used by truck drivers for transferring wastes are haphazard and depend on the existing traffic of that day. Further, waste is often transported inefficiently by low height open trucks designed for carrying heavy building materials and packaged goods. Waste from these open trucks falls or flies away when they drive on the roads and has to be re-collected manually or often re- mains scattered. All these add to waste collection costs and prob- lems. Fig. 5 shows an overflowing truck operated by KMC and another that is covered to ensure that waste is not scattered during the trip to the disposal site. Public-private sector partnerships are increasingly becoming the norm in SWM in the country. A recent FICCI survey showed that 23 out of 25 major cities in India are now utilizing private sector agencies for MSWM. KMC, too, has been utilizing private agencies to collect 49% of the total waste (yearly average for 1999–2000),

T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478


T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478 473 Fig. 3. Disposal into roadside

Fig. 3. Disposal into roadside vats (a and b) and a dumper (c).

3. Disposal into roadside vats (a and b) and a dumper (c). Fig. 4. Collection of

Fig. 4. Collection of solid waste from bins into trucks by manual loading and a pay loader with tipper truck.

while KMC collected the remaining waste. More recent estimates show that private agencies are collecting 55% of the total waste while KMC is collecting only 45% ( KEIP, 2003 ). Operation and main- tenance costs for KMC collection vehicles are Rs. 300/ton (US$7.6/ ton) compared to Rs. 150/ton (US$3.8/ton) for private vehicles. The total cost of waste management for KMC is Rs. 1477.83 million (US$31.46 million) with collection of waste requiring the largest expenditure at Rs. 1036.26 million (70.12%; US$26.2 million). The expenditure on disposal is the lowest at Rs. 76.80 million (5.2%; US$1.94 million), and that on transportation is Rs. 364.78 million (24.68%; US$9.2 million) ( KMC, 2003a; 2003b ).

2.3. Final disposal of municipal solid waste

There are three disposal sites in the KMC area at Dhapa, Garden Reach and Naopara of which Dhapa is the main one. Dhapa is at the eastern extreme of the city with all collection points within a distance of 20 km. The Dhapa area is part of the wetlands (approx- imate area of 10,000 ha), of which 24.71 ha are used for waste dumping ( KEIP, 2003 ). This part of the city has been used for waste dumping for over 100 years. Apart from this, sewage-fed aquacul- ture and vegetable farming are the most significant uses of this area.


T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478

474 T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478 Fig. 5. Transfer and transport

Fig. 5. Transfer and transport of collected waste from bins to disposal site.

More than 95% of the total waste generated in the KMC area is disposed at the Dhapa disposal site, and the rest is disposed at the Garden Reach disposal site. An Asian Development Bank (ADB) sur- vey showed that about 21.5 ha of land under zone-III is developed up to 17 m height from its original level (13 m above road level) ( Fig. 6 ), and only a very small area is now available for waste dis- posal ( CEIP, 2000 ). The remaining areas are occupied by shallow water bodies or man-made channels (used for cultivation and pisciculture), vegetable cultivation ( Fig. 7 ), composting, slum clus- ters, etc. Currently, waste is disposed by dumping on open land. Layers of silt from street sweepings and drainage cleanings are laid

over the garbage daily. These layers of silt do not provide enough compressive strength for movement of heavy vehicles over the dumps. At the Dhapa disposal site, all garbage-loaded vehicles are weighed in computerized weighbridges with capacities of 20 ton and 30 ton, before the garbage is disposed. An ‘‘Hourly Re- port” on disposal is maintained. Two bulldozers are employed at the disposal ground for spreading and compacting the garbage ( KEIP, 2003 ). At present, no treatment is provided for solid waste. A 700 ton/ day compost plant was set up by M/S. Eastern Organic Fertilizer Ltd. with technical backup of Excel Industry, Mumbai in the year

with technical backup of Excel Industry, Mumbai in the year Fig. 6. Dhapa Dumping Site, waste

Fig. 6. Dhapa Dumping Site, waste piles are 17 m high from ground level.

T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478


T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478 475 Fig. 7. Dump site occupied

Fig. 7. Dump site occupied by cultivators and water bodies.

2000 and operated at 200–250 TPD capacity until 2003 ( KMC, 2003a; 2003b ). Since 2003, Eastern Organic Fertilizer stopped operating the plant because the company was unable to sell the compost with a reasonable profit and failed to meet its commit- ments to KMC. A significant portion of the waste illegally reaches adjacent agricultural land to be used as compost. This is popularly known as garbage farming. The existing method of raw garbage farming can have adverse effects on human health, as heavy metals tend to enter the food chain unhindered. The present system and compost quality are totally unacceptable by WHO standards and World Bank norms.

3. Composition of municipal solid waste

Physical and chemical analyses of household waste; market waste; commercial, hotel and restaurant waste was done by KEIP Authority. The average density of solid waste was around 600 kg/ m 3 . Domestic municipal solid waste samples contain 45.1% fruit and vegetable waste and 8.8% paper. Waste from the markets con- tains 32.4% leaves, hay and straw; and 25.7% fruit and vegetable waste ( KEIP, 2003 ). Waste from the commercial area contains about 51% recyclable waste. Recyclable waste in bulk (or mixed) MSW waste is about 25%. Chemical properties of the waste indicate that the C/N ratio is highest (22.0) in market waste and lowest (9.3) in hotel waste. The average moisture content in city waste is around 60%, while the average calorific value was found to be 1832 kcal/ kg. Heavy metals like lead, chromium, zinc, copper and nickel were present in the solid waste samples. The physical composition of so- lid waste in the KMC area is shown in Fig. 8 for 1970 and 1993. There are significant differences in the waste composition for the two different years which have been attributed to changes in so- cio-economic conditions in the area during this time period.

4. Recent innovations and interventions taken by KMC

KMC has recently taken steps for better solid waste manage- ment. They have initiated a massive campaign through newspaper advertisements, leaflets and processions to create awareness amongst people about better solid waste management and source segregation. They have been trying to make a breakthrough in pri- mary collection by introducing trash bins on the footpath. For transportation, they have bought 30 dumpers and 200 containers and they plan to buy 32 dumpers and another 110 containers in the next financial year. They are also constructing a new weigh- bridge to reduce congestion at the single weigh bridge at the Dhap- a site. Since the KMC MSW is of low calorific value but high carbon content, KMC has been exploring use of the global Clean develop- ment mechanism (CDM). CDM is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol that allows industrialized countries with a greenhouse gas

reduction commitment to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emis- sion reductions in their own countries. KMC proposes to create a new landfill site with a multi-pronged strategy, and the selling of carbon credits will be an important element in that approach, the details of which have not been worked out as yet.

5. Problems in the present SWM scenario and possible solutions

Analysis of present solid waste management practices by KMC shows that there are many gaps that need to be addressed. Major problems are discussed here and possible solutions proposed.

5.1. Littering by residents after collection

Sweeping in the core city area is done regularly and fairly well whereas in the adjacent areas, it is neither daily nor regular. Clean- ing and waste collection from residences in the core area is done regularly, but householders, particularly from slums, low-income and middle-income groups and shopkeepers frequently throw waste onto streets and roads, and into open spaces and open drains after collection hours causing excessive littering as well as clogging of drainage systems. To avoid this problem, KMC should notify residents of the time of waste collection to avoid littering and introduce fines for throw- ing waste on roads or streets, or in open drains. If dwellers and shopkeepers are given waste storage containers of a standard size and collection is done regularly, then throwing waste on the road- sides is likely to decrease. KMC should also campaign aggressively for more awareness and education about cleanliness in public areas.

5.2. Poor conditions of containers and areas around them

More than 60% of primary collection and storage of waste is done using open storage enclosures, and these result in unhygienic conditions, foul smell and odor, and proliferation of flies and other vectors. Open storage enclosures should be eliminated and con- verted into closed containers. Where open storage enclosures can- not be eliminated, they should be cleaned completely after waste collection. Also, the volume of the storage enclosures should be de- signed by overestimating the generation of waste, not underesti- mating it as is done currently.

5.3. Distribution of labor and resources

Handcarts and sanitation workers (called Conservancy Maz- doors) are distributed to each borough on a population basis, as is the norm in the country. There are 0.7–1.57 handcarts per


T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478

Composition of solid waste collected in the KMC area, 1970 Paper, 3.18, 3%

Rags, 3.6, 4% Ash and Earth, 33.59, 33% 8% Earthen Ware, 6.65, 7% Coconut Shell,
Rags, 3.6, 4%
Ash and Earth,
33.59, 33%
Earthen Ware,
6.65, 7%
Coconut Shell,
4.96, 5%
Stone, 1.36, 1%
Leathers, 0.86,
Iron and other
metals, 0.66, 1%
Bones, 0.42, 0%


Hay and Straw, 6.31, 6%

Garbage, 16.05,

Vegetable Matter,

Ignited Coal, 8.08,

13.05, 13%

Glass, 0.58, 1% Plastics, 0.65,

Composition of solid waste in KMC area, 1993

Iron and other metals, 0.42, 0%

Bones, 4, 4% Leathers, 1.07, 1% Stone, 0.39, 0% Plastics, 1.67, 2% 9% Glass, 1.5,
Bones, 4, 4%
Leathers, 1.07, 1%
Stone, 0.39, 0%
Plastics, 1.67, 2%
Glass, 1.5, 2%
Vegetable Matter,
11.76, 12%
Hay and Straw, 3.34,

Ash and Earth, 17.18,

Rags, 5.73, 6%

Paper, 6.25, 6%


Coconut Shell, 9.22,

Earthen Ware, 4.15,

Ignited Coal, 2.46, 2%

Garbage, 29.42, 31%

Fig. 8. Physical composition of MSW of KMC area in 1970 and 1993. (Source: A Handbook of Municipal Administration, West Bengal, 1996.)

1000 people, and 1.7–3.8 staff allocated per 1000 people for all bor- oughs except VIII. The current norm in the country is 2.8–3.5 work- ers/1000 population, which is likely to be a gross underestimate of requirements. Allocation of workers and handcarts is based on data for population, commercial activities, road length, etc. Borough VIII, which is the Central Business District, has an extremely high allocation of handcarts and staff for handling the much higher requirements for waste collection. Another option for improving collection may be to appoint ragpickers or NGOs as waste collectors to collect both recyclable and biodegradable waste in separate containers, free of cost. Ragp- ickers can sell recyclable waste and generate some income for themselves. Not only would this improve the efficiency of urban solid waste collection and recovery, but it would also provide job opportunities for the informal waste collectors as well as protect their health and welfare.

5.4. Poor working conditions

Manual collection and transfer is unhygienic to the collectors. Most of the waste collectors suffer from parasitic diseases like jaundice, diarrhea, and trachoma ( NEERI, 1996 ). In a study in 1995, the average quarterly incidence of diarrhea was 85%, fever was 72% and cough and cold was 63%, amongst the 180 ragpickers working in the open dumps of Kolkata ( TERI, 1998 ). Containerized handcarts and more mechanical equipment should be used for avoiding manual collection and residents should have separate containers to collect different types of wastes. This

will reduce multiple handling, as well as poor productivity. Aware- ness among people should be generated so that they do segregate their wastes in different containers and collectors do not have to segregate the wastes.

5.5. Inadequate maintenance and replacement of worn-out collection vehicles

Most of the vehicles used for transportation of wastes are very old. This increases operations and maintenance costs, reduces transfer efficiency and causes excessive noise and air pollution. The entire fleet of vehicles should be well maintained, and 15% standby vehicles should be kept for emergency requirements. Fur- ther, the vehicles should be able to meet Bharat Stage III standards, which are currently applicable to all vehicles in India and are equivalent to Euro III regulations. It may be noted that Europe is currently using Euro IV standards for its four-wheeler vehicles.

5.6. Collection and transportation costs

The cost of transportation by manual loading and house-to- house collection is Rs. 450/ton (US$11.4/ton) and Rs. 1300/ton (US$32.9/ton), respectively, which is high in comparison to Mum- bai where it was found to be Rs. 1533/ton (US$38.8/ton) for total waste management ( Rathi, 2007 ) and in Chennai where it was Rs. 699/ton or US$17.69/ton ( Visvanathan and Trankler, 2006 ). In containerized collection systems, biodegradable and non-bio- degradable wastes are stored in separate containers and the possi-

T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478


bility of multiple handling by waste collectors is decreased, which not only saves time but also reduces collection costs and makes the process more efficient. On average, 25.3% of household waste and 51% of commercial wastes are recyclable ( KEIP, 2003 ). If residents segregate recyclables wastes and allow collectors to collect the recyclable materials, then the efficiency of collection will increase because of the collector interest in recyclable materials. Ragpicking causes unnecessary scattering of wastes at every step and can be prevented using this strategy. House-to-house collection has to in- crease from the present level of 60% coverage to 100%. This will end problems of littering because people will not throw their waste on the road in the absence of pickup by KMC.

5.7. Separation at source

The average density (600 kg/m 3 ) of waste in the KMC area is quite high compared to the average American city (95 kg/m 3 , Tchobanoglous et al., 1993 ), which makes compaction largely unnecessary. Given that the biodegradable portion of household waste is 45.1%, the C/N ratio is approximately 22 and the moisture content is 60%, composting or another bioprocess would be the best treatment strategy. The calorific value of collected solid waste (1832 kcal/kg) indicates that it cannot be incinerated without pro- viding additional fuel. Also, the moisture content is too high for the waste to be incinerated. If kitchen and yard waste are separated from the remaining waste, then composting under natural condi- tions or in engineered reactors can be carried out efficiently and economically. This will dramatically reduce the amount of waste to be disposed in the landfill, thus extending the life of the landfill site and saving huge investments required for land acquisition. Also, maintaining a landfill with non-biodegradable materials is easier than with biodegradable materials.

5.8. Collection and transfer systems

Currently, collection and transfer of solid waste in the KMC area is conducted in an ad hoc manner, without any systematic ap- proach. Solid waste collection vehicles are assigned to neighbor- hoods without any serious demand analysis. Route selection is left to the drivers and every vehicle collects solid waste along its route until its maximum capacity is reached, at which time it goes to the available disposal site to deposit its load. The empty vehicle then returns back to its route and continues collection for the next load. Since the route is not planned for avoiding traffic, vehicles travel either an extra distance or spend more time on the same route, which consumes more fuel and increases operating costs. The present approach is neither economical nor efficient. GIS- based analysis and optimization techniques can be used to deter- mine optimal ways of utilizing scarce manpower and resources for waste collection and transfer.

5.9. Treatment strategies

Currently, solid waste is not being treated and all waste is openly dumped in Dhapa. Compostable household and market wastes can be composted efficiently and economically, and the quantity of waste going to the landfill can be reduced by 50–60%. Other biological treatment processes like anaerobic processes for methane generation, and biogas generation can also be considered for treatment. Experience with composting plants has shown that one of the major reasons many of them fail is their inability to make a profit. For reasons of quality and economy, farmers are rarely interested in buying compost but will accept it at no-cost. Other bioprocessing options like biogas generation are successful only on a large-scale where good quality equipment, and adequate technical and management skills are available. At small- or med-

ium-scale treatment plants, biogas generation suffers from prob- lems like fluctuations in the quality and quantity of gas. Municipal corporations have to accept these facts and understand that SWM costs can only be minimized, and it is highly unlikely that waste can ever yield a profit. Also, SWM is and should remain an essential service to be provided to citizens and not treated as a ‘profit-making’ endeavor.

5.10. Unscientific disposal method

The present method of waste disposal cannot be called sani- tary or controlled landfilling because the waste is neither placed systematically nor is it covered with earth and compacted in thin layers of 200–400 mm as required for sanitary landfills. There is no control on the entry of ragpickers who carryout ragpicking in a haphazard and hazardous way. The filling opera- tion becomes critical during monsoons when most of the fill site is inaccessible to heavy hauling and spreading equipment. Also, the leachate generated is not collected properly or treated before being discharged into water bodies. Recent analysis carried out on samples of aged/old waste collected from the Dhapa site shows the presence of coliform bacteria and heavy metals (lead, cadmium, chromium, copper, zinc and nickel) ( KEIP, 2003 ). It is evident that leachate has to be treated to minimize toxic metals concentrations before it is discharged to inland surface waters, public sewers or on land. Presently, no care is taken to stop leachate percolation and related groundwater contamination. This problem has been aggravated by reversal in the direction of flow of groundwater from southwards (until 1956) to north- wards (in 1996), due to unplanned pumping of groundwater from the subsoil ( Asnani, 2004 ). Engineered landfills with proper leachate collection and extrac- tion systems and odorous gas collection and extraction systems will minimize the groundwater contamination problem. Silt col- lected during road sweeping and debris from construction places should not be mixed with household and market waste and should be stacked, collected and transported separately to the disposal site for using as cover material. Proper security has to be main- tained at the landfill site for minimizing entry of ragpickers.

6. Conclusions

Data regarding SWM in the KMC area were collected, and defi- ciencies in the system were identified. Feasible solutions to some of the existing problems have also been proposed. More than 2920 ton/d of solid waste are generated in the KMC area and around Rs. 1590 million (US$40.35 million), or Rs. 265/ cap-y (US$6.7/cap-y), have been allocated for SWM in 2007– 2008. This expenditure remains insufficient for providing adequate SWM services. Deficiencies in each of the elements of an integrated SWM system are summarized here.

6.1. Collection and transportation

More than 70% of the KMC budget goes for collection of waste and yet requirements are not met adequately. Collection efficiency is around 60–70% for the registered residents and less than 20% for unregistered residents (slum dwellers). While total container or storage capacity is adequate, their locations are inappropriate, resulting in bins that frequently overflow with waste. Vehicles owned by KMC are inadequate in number, and less than 50% of the current fleet is operational at any point in time. Another major issue is shortage of manpower for collection. These gaps in the sys- tem point to the need for upgrading current equipment and using more rational management methods for locating bins and routing vehicles. Optimization methods have been used successfully for


T. Hazra, S. Goel / Waste Management 29 (2009) 470–478

solving the last two problems and can be employed for developing

a better solid waste collection system. Public-private partnerships

have also proven to be successful, with private agencies providing waste collection services at lower cost and greater efficiency com-

pared to KMC.

6.2. Treatment and disposal

At present, no treatment is provided for collected solid waste. More than 90% of the total collected waste is directly disposed in Dhapa in an unsatisfactory manner without providing earth cover. This method of dumping has led to heavy metal pollution in groundwater, since no leachate collection and treatment option is available. Sanitary landfilling with leachate and gas collection

is the recommended method for disposal of MSW.

Although a huge portion of KMC’s budget goes for MSWM, poor collection and inadequate transportation of wastes continue and result in the accumulation of waste throughout the city. A lack of suitable facilities (equipment and infrastructure) and underesti- mates of waste generation rates, shortages of labor, management deficiency, and improper route planning are responsible for poor collection and inadequate transportation. Further, unscientific dis- posal methods not only cause adverse effects on the environment and on human health, but also decrease land availability for dis- posal and other uses.


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