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Privatized Solid Waste Management Still Failing to Protect Public Health in Puducherry

February 3, 2013

On January 20, 2011, I shot the following photo of a street corner in Puducherry’s heavily touristed historic district–a neighborhood that one would expect Puducherry’s administrators to keep spotless because of its extremely high visibility.

Privatisation is not the solution to India's solid waste crisis

The corner of Rue Romain Rolland and Lal Bahadur Shastri Street, Puducherry, 20 January 2011

In January 2011, Puducherry’s government contracted municipal solid waste management for 19 years to a company named Kivar Environ through a public-private joint venture, Puducherry Municipal Services Pvt. Ltd. (PMSPL). In this blog, I’ve documented the failure of PMSPL to bring waste management in Puducherry into compliance with the Indian government’s Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, which were gazetted in 2000. The rules mandate daily, door-to-door collection of segregated recyclable and compostable municipal solid waste.

In April 2012, Kivar Environ quit their 19-year contract with the government of Puducherry on the grounds of financial irregularities. Puducherry’s government then reverted to the previous arrangement of contracting waste collection to local small contractors. The results of this arrangement on the same street corner are visible in the following photos, taken on 21 January 2013:

Municipal waste littered in Puducherry, India

Rue Romain Rolland and Lal Bahadur Shastri St., 21 January 2013

A waste collector rummages for recyclable waste in Puducherry

A waste collector rummages through municipal waste on Rue Romain Rolland, Puducherry, 21 January 2013

Leaving aside the disgraceful sight and smell of this rotting garbage and the nuisance and hazard caused by large packs of stray dogs that feed on and scatter the trash, such mismanagement of garbage seriously jeopardizes public health. Such unhygienic conditions, which create ideal breeding grounds for disease vectors (rats, mosquitoes, flies), are believed to have led to the pneumonic plague epidemic in Surat in 1994 and are the reason that the government of India drafted clear regulations for scientific management of municipal solid waste in 2000.

Privatized waste management is clearly failing to protect public health in Puducherry and in other localities throughout India, but local authorities appear to remain entirely unconcerned.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Samuel Joseph Manasseh permalink
    March 5, 2013 6:31 am

    I would like to express my sincere views that for a service contract the principal should not focuss on the lowest bidder whereas it should consider the sustainable system the bidder would provide. The bidder who has sound experience, financial capabalities and technical efficiency should be given first preference. L1 can never meet the requirements of MSW Rules 2000. SJ Manasseh

  2. Joe Ferrie permalink
    December 2, 2013 2:29 am

    Thank you for this post. We saw a lot of this when visiting Pondi earlier this year, and stayed on one of the very streets shown in your photographs. We are going back this winter and are interested in finding a way to have this problem addressed.

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