Bhubaneswar, April 20: For the second time in a month, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) councillors opposed the state government’s proposal to float a global tender for sanitation work by dividing the city’s 51 wards into two zones.
The sanitation work is managed by a private party in 51 of the BMC’s 60 wards. The remaining nine wards are looked after by the civic body staff.
Today, though many councillors opposed the proposal, others called for changes in the government proposal.
When the annual BMC budget was passed on March 13, the councillors opposed the housing and urban development department’s proposal that wanted to divide the municipal area into two zones for efficient management of solid waste though two contractors. The proposal also said that there would be a global tender so that a financially strong contender could manage the affairs.
However, the councillors are not buying the entire proposal of the state government because they feel a large organisation, operating with its headquarters in a metropolitan city, might be too difficult to manage by the city authorities and there could also be problems with the local councillors.
“I think that a seven-year contract is not essential. It could be for two or three years. If the present batch of councillors allow the proposal, they will be blamed in the future. We have more than one-and-a-half years left in our term and if this proposal gets our consent, the future councillors will blame us,” said Seikh Nizamuddin, chairman of the standing committee on sanitation and councillor of ward No. 36.
“The BMC should cautiously handle this matter and the solid waste contract must not end up like the city bus service. Though the BMC mayor is the chairman of the company managing the city bus service, the civic body has no control over it as the project was awarded to a service operator through a single tender. In the solid waste management proposal, there should be more players as bidders so that there is genuine competition,” he added.
For solid waste management, while last year’s allocation was Rs 22 crore, this year it has touched Rs 26 crore in the BMC’s Rs 451-crore budget.
Municipal commissioner Vishal Kumar Dev said: “We have already reached a stage when the city is generating 440 tonne of solid waste a day, so the waste management should follow the universal practice and we cannot be like a panchayat or notified area council. As the Centre and the state government are also investing in the city development process, the proposal is also important for future funding patterns. We need to have big players so that they can have more potential to invest on the mechanical cleaning process ensuring better service.”
“We can consider making another zone so that there would be three zones for 51 wards, but more division of the city will not yield a good result,” Dev said.
Councillor of ward No. 58 Chhabindra Jena said: “The city should be divided into four zones for better management of solid wastes and not two. The proposal to award the contract for seven years is also not rational and there should be a trial contract for two or three years. Once the municipal council feels that the organisations are doing the job well, then the contract period could be extended further.”
Councilor of ward no. 11 Kalpana Samal said that before going for contract on zonal basis or awarding the work for seven years, the civic body must evaluate the cost per ward i.e. an area managed by BMC staff and that by a private contractor. ``We must have a cost-benefit ratio analysis for the solid waste management plan as if failed than using a bigger organisation for betterment could impart a negative impact,’’ she observed.
BMC covers 135 square km with a population of around 9 lakh from 2,36,231 households. Solid waste collected from the city area is taken to the landfill site at Bhuasuni on the outskirts in an area of 61.485 acres. Landfill site is covered with soil on daily basis.