The cash-strapped Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has decided to privatise conservancy services. The ‘experimental’ scheme, which is to be implemented in phases, aims to cut costs of solid waste management in the city.
Estimates put the Corporation’s initial savings from the move to outsource conservancy services at Rs 10 crore a year. Calcutta generates around 2,400 tonnes of garbage a day, on an average, for which the civic body spends Rs 38.35 lakh every day for collection and disposal. The final cost that goes into each tonne of trash dumped at Dhapa is around Rs 1,598.
“If a contractor takes up this burden, we will be able to lighten the load on taxpayers, as it will allow us to cut down on rentals for lorries and labour costs,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.
Currently, the Corporation spends over Rs 3 lakh a day on about 1,000 contract labourers and 170 hired lorries before the waste can be reached to the dumping grounds.
Around 11,000 mazdoors are on the civic body’s payroll to collect trash from households and sweep roads, at a cost of Rs 18 lakh a day. With a rapid growth in the urban areas, the cost burden is on the rise, explained assistant director (conservancy) Swapan Mahapatra.
Privatisation would also save the Corporation the trouble of buying brooms, spades, hand-carts, buckets and other implements, over which there have been disputes in the past.
The mazdoors draw a monthly salary from the CMC but have also been taking a monthly charge from the households in the localities they service. It remains to be seen if this system will be affected.