Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Bubble of Agony

Proper Dumping of Waste for a Clean City

Bamir Mir

It has long been noticed that unlawful dumping of wastes on roadsides at some places of both the Dhaka city corporations is going on unabated. People commit such misdeeds surreptitiously either at dead of night or in broad daylight. Perhaps pedestrians and adjacent residents have also become used to tolerating such public nuisance except having some silent expostulations or expletives in mind. Over the years, scarcity of available lands for dumping wastes, lack of manpower in waste management department and disarray in disposing of household wastes have compelled city dwellers to continue such haphazard dumping of garbage.

Lately DSCC abrogates all illegal dumping spots under its territory. Undoubtedly it appears to be a great initiative towards ensuring a clean city. Modus operandi for performing the job was nicely outlined. First, illicit waste dumping grounds on every street will be identified. Second, hectic campaign will be conducted for making residents of the locality aware as well as alert about their unlawful and negligent act by using megaphone or loudspeaker. Third, signboards/notices will be instantaneously hung at such places so that it works as a deterrent to the people who were still unaware of the cleanness drive. Four, punitive measures will be taken as the last resort against residents who don’t give up such  bad practice and willfully flout the DSCC order in spite of being adequately aware of their misdeeds.

Meanwhile DSCC’s endeavour has been crowned with success in many wards, especially where local councillors have spontaneously come forward by extending their helping hands to the DSCC field level waste management officials including the ZEOs (zonal executive officers). But in few cases waste management staffs are still facing stiff resistance from some unlawful obscurantist who are stubborn, headstrong and intransigent to being changed and always create hindrances to any kind of good enterprise of the government. For example, in one morning the ZEO of a zone was conducting awareness campaign among the locals near to a garbage dumping spot reminding them through loudspeaker that it was indecent to dump wastes on the roadsides which not only pollutes the environment but also spreads stenches to the pedestrians. Public support was garnered against such malpractice and many people gathered at the spot momentarily promising to prevent further illegal dumping of waste on that place from the next day. Right at that moment two octogenarian appeared there out of the blue, locked in altercation of words with the ZEO and craftily instigated some unruly youths against the DSCC move.

Haphazard dumping of wastes on roads

“Behold!” One of the two old men said, “I am seventy years old and have been dropping wastes here for the last sixty years; who, the hell you are to stop me from dumping wastes here?” The old man again argued that he paid taxes to the DSCC for removing those wastes. In reply the DSCC official projected four logical grounds to dispel his misgivings. First, the pedestrians who use the road also pay taxes to the DSCC and they therefore preserve the right to pass through a clean, stench free, waste-free, and pollution free environment. And that the complainant was indirectly denying and disrespecting other citizens’ rights by putting garbage on a public road. Second, the matter was not such that he was helpless but to dump wastes there without having any other option opened before him. Rather PCSP (primary collection service providers) workers now collect wastes from every household; so why not he gives wastes to them. Third, the tax that he claimed to have paid (if at all) was not aimed at collecting home wastes rather such tax was realized by the DSCC for providing three kinds of essential services to its residents.  Dilating on the 12% tax he said that the tax which the land and flat owners pay to the DSCC includes 7% for land use permission, 3% for street lighting and the rest 2% for conservancy service. This conservancy service does not mean collecting wastes from individual households; rather it concerns with disposing of wastes from public places like roads, streets, drains and sewerage lines. Four, the bad practice that he had been used to for the past several years was tantamount to committing a cognizable offence called public nuisance being punishable under section 290 of the penal code 1860.

The bare fact that derives from the above conversation signifies that habituation matters and perhaps that’s why wise people say ‘habit is the second nature’ and dissuading people from his old habit always stands as an arduous task. Dhakaites still stick to many old bad habits which they are unlikely to give up so shortly. Adequate campaigns, rallies, seminars and symposiums must be organized and held in association with GOs and NGOs and in cooperation with local level elected representatives in order to bring necessary changes to the old psyche of outdated citizens.

The state of waste management systems in some of the government quarters remains worrisome, deplorable and horrifying. They neither have any proper waste management plan nor do PWD (public works department) engineers take regular care of those establishments. Moreover, irresponsible littering habit of city dwellers seriously obstructs all good initiatives of the DSCC or DNCC. Canals under DSCC were earlier used to be maintained by the WASA. At that time canals flowing through the DSCC were in a sordid condition and so to say, invisible to people. But now that situation has been changed by scouring the long deposited wastes from under the canal beds through the tireless efforts of the DSCC waste management staffs. However, unrestricted and indiscriminate nature of dumping wastes by city people mars the ongoing cleanness drive on roads, streets and canals carried by its waste management staffs.

The situation of waste management aggravates during the celebration of holy Eid-ul-Azha and reaches to its nadir when hundreds of thousands of sacrificial animals are slaughtered in the capital and their residues like entrails, tails, ears, horns, hoofs etc. are left at random at different places without following any health guideline of the city corporation. At that time the waste management department has to bear the brunt of collecting, transporting and disposing additional wastes created by qurbani givers plus the ordinary household wastes made daily by its residents. Ipso facto the DSCC and DNCC authority have to hire or borrow some additional equipments and machineries from other organizations to manage such huge pressure of wastes.

Currently there exists no specific Act for penalizing any person for violating waste management rules. So the government should mull over making a statute for providing a permanent shape to the waste disposal activity. Above all, people of all strata must raise voice against haphazard dumping of wastes on roads.


The writer is a Deputy Secretary to the Government, currently employed as ZEO under DSCC. Email: [email protected]