Civic Issues My Projects

Problem of mafia in Waste Management in India – What’s the solution?

I touched upon Mafia topic in my previous post of summary on waste management solutions, but didn’t fully elaborate the solution.

So here are the details on Mafia issue, as I understand.

These are the wrong behaviours that I know that are shown by Contractors (alleged to be Mafia by most)

1. They don’t segregate waste (or mix it up if it is segregated)

Why: This is because they have no incentive to do the segregation. They don’t have technology to segregate. Manual segregation is expensive. And they are paid on weight of the waste they dump.

2. They don’t do local processing of waste but rather they go to long distances to landfills

Why: This is because they are paid for the distance travelled by vehicles. Again something that encourges them to travel as far as possible and with as much waste as possible with no efficiency techniques applied.

3. They make fake bills

Why: Because they can. And system blindly pays them for the number of trucks used, distance travelled etc.
So, what’s the solution to these?
We need to do following things:
  • Build technology for waste segregation and a solid waste management system that can be used by contractors profitably and easily.
  • Restructure the contract terms and incentivsation in such a way that contractors are incentivised for right behaviour for maximising their gains.
  • Build the ecosystem in such a way that contractors make most of the money directly from the waste and waste producers rather than government. More on building such system is mentioned in this UN-HABITAT report.
 Even if we have just appropriate technology in place, they can choose any of the following:
  • Continue the same payment and incentivisation system while using new waste disposal points instead of landfills
  • Use the segregation technology themselves and collect the waste, segregate and process it using the latest technology and make more money than earlier.

Only challenge that I see here is that it could reduce money involved for some of the elements in the system because as of now some of these people make money because of corruption and inefficiency of the system. These people would oppose these changes, but since these people would mostly be government employees, with appropriate involvement of higher authorities and activism this should be solvable.

Surely, easier said than done. But since most likely the contractors would not suffer any or only little monetary loss and would have legitimate and eco friendly business, chances of them supporting these government employees may reduce and that may make getting these implemented relatively easier.

I would definitely work towards getting it done, and join people trying it.

As of now, all of these depends on us being ready with the appropriate technology though. I would wait for that eagerly and keep revisiting this space regularly!

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