| FILTH TRAIL: A child proceeds to school over a garbage dump in Lake Gardens. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
If Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is appalled by the fact that Calcutta is resembling a garbage dump, he should take note of the following facts and figures about filth in the city:
Calcutta generates around 3,000 tonnes of garbage daily (the figure touched 3,399 tonnes on Thursday) and most of it is dumped on the streets. Waste is usually cleared in the morning and the mound builds up throughout the day
Even after waste is removed in the morning, at least 20 per cent is left behind. Reason: there are not enough men or vehicles
Conservancy staff refuse to collect garbage from anywhere other than the vats. But 'unorganised garbage' amounts to at least another 20 per cent of the city's waste.
'Calcutta is a crowded city, generating an increasing amount of garbage every day,' said Dilip Nandy, former chief engineer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
'If garbage is not cleared at least thrice a day, the city will continue to be one heap of filth. It's time the policy of once-a-day removal was modified,' he asserted.
The civic authorities, however, attribute the mess to the people's habit of dumping garbage at any time of the day, instead of only in the morning.
'As it is, conservancy employees are difficult to deal with. They will not go the extra mile to keep the city clean,' said Arun Sarkar, chief engineer, conservancy.
'A sweeper will not clean an inch more than the 300 metres assigned to him. Moreover, he will not carry the collected litter, but will leave it for someone else,' he added.
Sarkar said the only way out was to hand over the conservancy job to private agencies, a plan the mandarins are considering. 'Divide the city into zones and rope in private agencies to clean them,' he suggested.
Residents have complained that door-to-door collection of garbage is not taken up daily. Waste piles up at homes for days, after which people are forced to throw it on the streets.
Another refrain among citizens: if there are no bins to dump garbage, the only option is to throw it on the road.
The civic authorities had installed around 4,000 'mobile' litter bins at a cost of Rs 20 lakh, but not one can be seen on the streets.
'We have not removed them. So, who is to blame' asked mayoral council member (information) Faiyaz Khan, referring to the vats with wheels that have gone missing.