Most apartments in Bengaluru are penny-wise & pound-foolish. Here’s why.


A huge 1,400-flat Brigade apartment in JP Nagar generates over 1,000 kgs of food waste per day. To dispose of this load of precious waste illegally, they pay anything between Rs 75,000-Rs 1,00,000 to a private contractor. Sometime ago, a vendor who specialises in biogas systems approached them offering a happily-ever-after solution. It called for a one-time investment of Rs 1,500 per flat which ran into Rs 21 lakh. The biogas unit, fitted with a genset, was capable of generating a good deal of power which would help them recover their investment in less than four years. There were other added benefits, too. But the community rejected the solution outright saying, “it’s too costly!”

Similarly, a 1,500-home Prestige apartment in Whitefield puts out 2,000 kgs of food waste each day. They tried processing their waste using an OWC given by the builder for sometime. Thanks to its inherent drawbacks, the community had to spend over Rs 1 lakh just to run the system as it called for a minimum of six-eight workers and considerable outgo on power consumption. One fine day, they ditched this and bribed a contractor to take away all their waste for the same cost.

The third case comes straight out of my list apartments who have approached me for consultancy. A 170-plus-home community located in North Bengaluru went restless when their beloved contractor started playing truant and the mixed waste started stinking in their basement for days on end. The management panicked. Somehow, despite all their sincere efforts, they could not find another contractor to dump it elsewhere. A concerned resident called me and sought a permanent solution as she found it really hard to deal with contractors on a daily basis. But the president of the management committee, who said he was a retired scientist, went weak on his knees when I said it would take a couple of lakhs to set up a sustainable system. His argument was this: “Why should we invest so much for a composting system when we can just throw it away?”

After some more efforts, the gentleman brought back the same contractor who was paid about Rs 10,000 per month before. I am told this fellow bargained for more to put the community out of its misery. The woman resident seemed genuinely distraught but was helpless. “The episode may replay anytime soon. I don’t know why people can’t make a sensible decision collectively.”

Basic math, anyone?

If you ever thought education and economic status influence our thought processes, think again. In all the above cases, all it needed was the members to put their heads together and do some basic math. Forget saving the environment or the planet… it’s too much of garbage to be processed between the ears. But the decisions all these communities made didn’t even make plain economic sense!

Case #1: They should have simply gone for the biogas system, processed all kinds of segregated organic waste, generated power, recovered their investment and then, lived happily ever after with free power and almost zero monthly outgo.

Case #2: The community did the right thing by ditching an inefficient OWC but instead of seeking refuge in an illegal activity, they could have looked around and invested in a better system and saved a good deal of money.

Case #3: In less than two years, this small community would have recovered its investment and never be at the mercy of a greedy contractor.

The delicacy of a debate

That’s exactly what goes missing when a few people assume power in a community and start cutting corners thinking that they are doing their best for everyone else even if it’s against the law. I often wonder, do they even have a decent debate on pros and cons before calling up a contractor? What’s the use of buying a home with all the hard-earned money if we don’t have a beautiful planet to put it on?

Pic source: agefotostock.com

9 thoughts on “Most apartments in Bengaluru are penny-wise & pound-foolish. Here’s why.

  1. Hi Savita, The OWC which you are referring here, is it the one which is used to compact the waste and then requires curing using trays or the 24h one? What is your opinion about the former one? I have seen many big societies using this because they say it reduces the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ambily,

      Thanks for chiming in…
      The one I am referring to here is a rack and crate system. It gets too process-, cost-, power- and labour-intensive. No, I am NOT talking about 24-hour composters.

      -Savita

      Like

      • Got it. As someone correctly pointed out in the comment below, many societies, educational institutes are using this ( I have even seen in a prestigious environmental institute), probably this was one of the earliest model that came in the market and have first movers advantage. Plus they invest a lot on advertisement too, often when you type compost or something related on google, these ads pop up automatically.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear eco concerned,
    Greetings.
    Good Analysis and appreciable in SWM.
    Only one view is not adequate to infer or take the most sustainable way out.
    1. Environmental protection is cost neutral..
    2. USWM model 1994 had the basic scales of operation developed under a KSCST and UoA Holland .project during 1988-94.
    3. 8 IconSWMs have been conducted in India since 2008 with a deluge of best and not so good practices
    5. A waste management hand holding decision support model is Necessary. This. could be based on ongoing ppractices at hsasirudala, swm-RT and CST IISc..
    6. Few working models for decentralised SWM were presented at 3rd to 6th IconSWM by me. One paper with principal investigator at CST IISc as a project for IconSWM is worth while.
    7. The veracity with simple LCA seems inevitable to prevent technological inadequate doings and grabbing good money.
    In essence the waste management must be profit bearing for the generator and pay back in terms of protecting health, bring resources and ecological .
    Endlessly Green seems to me practical but to be sustainable must be adequately eco literacy one. LCA life cycle analysis as a tool is very useful.
    Ecologically
    Profvjags
    President FMCCWP Mysuru
    Invitee Member TAC KSPCB
    Organising Secretary 4to6th IconSWM
    Formerly Prof HUDCO Chair ATI Mysuru
    Founder director ETI KSPCB Danidia now EMPRI
    .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Prof Jagannatha,

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      >> A waste management hand holding decision support model is Necessary…
      I agree. We have service providers like HDI, Saahas, etc. I launched my end-to-end SWM consultancy recently after 7-8 years of experience in this field and as a member of SWMRT. I help communities set up suitable composting solutions.

      My blog is the only source where research and documentation on almost all available/working composting models can be found. So far, 17 have been written about and two more are lined up.

      Would be great to meet you and learn more about “LCA life cycle”.

      Thank you again,
      Savita

      Like

  3. We have already invested 20 lacs on owc its highly expensive to maintain the machine ,employee labour and spend on electricity. OWC is highly recommended by BBMP, I strongly feel for OWCs are useless I have not seen a single Apartment which has succeeded in this.

    best way to do composting he is to do natural composting bury them naturally and get them compost which does not require any machine but little bit of land

    We wanted to explore biogas but I have not seen any live examples I would be glad if you can help me with that but again what’s another big investment having already been highly invested once in OWC

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Raghu,

      I completely agree with your take on OWCs. One of the case studies given here is very much about that.

      That said, doing pit composting is easy said than done. You need a lot of space, not just a little, depending on the quantity.

      Thirdly, yes, please write to endlesslygreen360@gmail.com to explore more viable options including biogas. Let’s take it forward. Thanks for your perseverence with OWC. 🙂

      -Savita.

      Like

  4. Hi. it is only now especially after 2016 order of supreme court order the splid waste disposal is starting to become somewhat sensoble. Lot of sincere and sensible efforts among house owner citizens can give adefinite result. Keep talking and doing.

    shankar

    Like

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