The municipal commissioner of a coastal city in Andhra Pradesh has declared war on indiscriminate garbage dumping in a unique way. He sends "return gifts" of domestic waste to residents who not hand it over to civic body-assigned garbage collectors.
In Kakinada city of East Godavari district, almost 55km east of Hyderabad, municipal commissioner Swapnil Dinakar Pundkar gets his staff to collect the irresponsibly discarded garbage and "home deliver" it to those who have no qualms about throwing it on the roads and in drains - one of the biggest factors leading to urban flooding.
Mr Pundkar adopted this stern method to try and change the residents' habits days after the civic body started an awareness campaign on responsible waste management under the Clean India Mission, but found people continuing with their old ways.
"We have been doing awareness drives (on the correct way to dispose garbage to make the city clean), but some people refuse to follow the rules. Whoever is found littering on the road, the garbage will be collected and sent back to their house as a deterrent after due verification. With this "return gift", we want to tell them that this is a wrong practice," municipal commissioner Swapnil Dinakar Pundkar told NDTV.
So #Kakinada municipal commissioner is supervising '#ReturnGift' of #garbage to every household that does not hand over trash to municipal worker who does door-to-door collection & instead dump irresponsibly on the road or in drains @ndtv@ndtvindia@kakinada_KMC#SwachchBharatpic.twitter.com/H6AfiPqOCY— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) November 7, 2020
Videos of municipal commissioner Swapnil Pundkar's interactions with erring residents have been shared widely on the internet, where he has earned high praise for his unique approach to the problem.
Visuals show Mr Pundkar touring the city with municipal workers, who point out homes where reportedly refuse to "cooperate". He is seen warning residents against dumping garbage on the road, and then supervising his staff to carry a bag of garbage to the house and empty it at the entrance.
"Next time a fine will be imposed. You complain of clogged drains; how do you expect the water to flow if you throw garbage in it," he is heard asking residents in one of the videos.
There are 1.2 lakh households and 80,000 houses in Kakinada city, where 90 per cent homes have been given barcodes that are scanned every time a civic worker collects garbage. The city has nearly 1,200 municipal staffers, of whom 900 are involved in door-to-door garbage collection.
"We want to do away with garbage dumping on roads as it attracts stray animals. We are asking people to segregate wet and dry waste, if possible. We recycle wet waste into vermi-compost and dry waste is recycled and resold," the Commissioner said, adding that he wants to turn Kakinada into a clean and green city at the earliest.