Monday, March 24, 2014

Journey towards a Vat Free New Town?

My facebook friends drew my attention to last Sunday's (not yesterday, the Sunday before) Satyameva Jayate where Aamir Khan talked about keeping our cities clean. I saw it later on the YouTube.

Garbage / domestic waste is collected from the premises of houses itself in New Town, as in many parts of Kolkata as well. But there is no intermediate storage area and the compactors take them directly to the disposal site. But what do you do of public places? Bus stands and parks? Here is a picture of a vat in Eco Park that we've had to tie with a rope to a pole so that errant children or instability do not topple it - especially when overfill:

This is being done for all extra vats that are not fixed to the ground. But how do we deal with overflowing vats, in spite of twice-a-day cleaning (before the park opens and in the afternoon)? Close to 10,000 people visit the Eco Park on special days.

I think the solution lies in ensuring that each person takes care of the waste generated by her. Here is a campaign that we have just begun to launch:
If successful, this can be extended to all parts of New Town, and then to other parts of Kolkata and beyond. However, getting people's co-operation and changing behaviour is not easy or quick. I'll be happy even if we can make a clean vat-free New Town by a couple of years or so.
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Here are two clippings:
The Telegraph Metro dt 24.2.2014
Sanmarg dt 22.1.2014


  1. Sir, there needs to be a proper reward and retribution policy to change the mentality/ or instill civic sense into the denizens of our great city. Households that segregate garbage into dry/wet/ recyclable etc. can be rewarded in some form. There needs to be an awareness drive for those who litter streets after which penalties can be imposed. For eco-park, an inexpensive garbage bag may be given to visitors to store their garbage at the time of purchase of ticket. Cost of this bag may be included in the ticket price; and stiff fines for littering within the premises need to be imposed.

  2. The carry out your own trash concept should work ok for people with their own cars, but might not work well for the majority of people using public transport. People would be hesitant to carry a bag of trash aboard with them on a bus - I believe most of the trash generated would be compost-able food material / recyclable materials such as glass bottles / plastic bottles - Eco Park should use part of the extra income from the high volume days to keep extra garbage collectors / trucks on duty.

    Also, instead of the regular plastic stuff, please invest in some better quality outdoor trash cans that cannot be easily toppled over. Similar to the ones on this website - These are suitable for public places such as bus stands and parks.

  3. I also agree with Sudipta Roy Choudhuri. I do not think carrying back waste is a practical solution. If twice a day cleaning leads to overflowing, then the vats must be cleaned thrice. And as for waste segregation, well, New Town can lead the way in segregating bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste.

  4. I agree with other comments. There is need to put bigger size vets at key locations and frequency of cleaning vets needs to be increased.
    I feel bigger issue should litter free rather than vet free newtown. Vets should be kept at all public places and PPP model should be used for cleaning & maintainence. So we have cleaner and greener Newtown as well as Kolkata.