Clean it like Pune
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Pune's range of solutions for managing waste range from the most traditional to the most modern and scientific, and are already resulting in saving money for the municipality—and that's without even accounting for the carbon credits
Pune, the second-largest city in Maharashtra after Mumbai, offers a shining example of what a city can do to manage the growing menace of garbage as it urbanises at a rapid pace. Widely known as the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is also called Oxford of the East because of its many fine educational institutions, attracting migrants and students from all over India and abroad. The city has always been an important commercial centre of Maharashtra, but the rapid growth of industry in the Pune district, particularly the concentration of IT companies and of automotives and auto-components, has added a modern flavour to its development.
Growing numbers and rising prosperity has meant that not only is the quantity of solid waste growing—Pune generates 1,400 metric tonnes of solid waste per day—but its composition is also changing with more plastics and non-biodegradable elements to reflect the changing patterns of consumption of the growing middle classes.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been trying a range of solutions from the most traditional and informal to the most modern and scientific, converting waste to energy with state-of-the-art environment-friendly technology and developing scientific landfills for depositing the much reduced garbage that cannot be reused. Rag-pickers' cooperatives are participating in the clean-up as much as the corporate sector with the latest technology.
Pune was no different from other Indian cities in having piles of waste on street corners and overflowing community bins which were rummaged by rag-pickers to seek out a living from selling the recyclable bits. Garbage used to slowly find its way from the bins to transfer stations and was finally transported to the dumpsite 22 km away at Urali to rot.