Rath Yatra 2019 : Does Puri have wherewithal to handle 360 MT solid waste on D-Day?

Neither Urban Development Minister Pratap Jena nor the District authorities deem it fit to detail sanitation and hygenic steps taken by the State Govt this year

Bhubaneswar: With only a day left for the World famous Rath Yatra, a reality check of the pilgrim town Puri reveals how one among the ‘chaar dhams’  lacks the wherewithal to handle the colossal municipal solid waste about  to be generated due to  a vast influx of an estimated around 12 lakh pilgrims to witness the car fest this year.

While the Puri civic body claims of daily solid waste generation at 50 metric tonnes every day, the latest estimation method of the Union Housing and Urban Development Ministry pegged the quantum at a whopping 63 metric tonnes/day.  NGOs engaged in the solid waste management peg the quantum at a high of 98 metric tonnes/day.

And as the pilgrim town hosts a floating population or pilgrims of around 50,000 on a daily basis, the additional solid waste generated totalled to around  15 tonnes.  Overall, the city of Puri every day generates a whopping 78 tonnes of municipal solid waste.

On special occasions like the annual Rath yatra, an official estimate taking into consideration a congregation of  around 12 lakh devotees this car fest put the additional municipal solid waste generation on the Rath Yatra day at a massive 360 metric tonnes.

Regarding the categorisation of solid wastes generated, data available with the Puri civic body revealed that dry leaves, cotton rags, coir, gross wood and debris together account for over 30 per cent of solid waste generated. Green coconut shells alone form around 5-8 per cent of solid waste generated in the city.

In the said context, the preparation of Puri civic body looks quite pallid. As per the civic body’s own admission, the gap between generation and disposal is over 5 metric tonnes/day. But a document submitted under Swachh city plan puts the gap at a high of around 28 metric tonne/day.

Prior to Rath Yatra, the city has around 70 bins positioned by the civic body at various strategic locations to collect municipal solid waste. Moreover, the civic body employs around 500 Safai Karamcharis for road cleaning/bush cutting and garbage lifting.

The piligrim centre is woefully lacking in community and public toilet facilities. As per official  reports, the temple town currently has a gap of over 104 community toilets and a dozen public toilet facilities.

However, it’s shocking to see that neither the Urban Development Minister Pratap Jena nor the District authorities deem it fit to detail the sanitation and hygenic steps taken by the State Government this year.

Even, the Executive Officer of the Puri Municipality didn’t respond to the details asked by the OTV digital correspondent regarding steps taken by the city and civic administration to ensure a hygienic car fest this year.

Top sources in the State urban development department revealed that with Central funding of Rs 30 crore, the City administration was to start collecting 100 per cent solid waste generated in the city from the fiscal year 2019-20. Till date the 100 per cent collection of solid waste has not been accomplished in Puri, when the Rath Yatra is only a day away.