Urbanisation

COVID-19 lockdown reduces Patna waste by more than half

An unfortunate side-affect is hundreds of stray dogs left to starve

 
By C K Manoj
Last Updated: Wednesday 29 April 2020
An aerial view of Bihar capital Patna Photo: Chandan Singh/Flickr

The streets of Bihar capital Patna bore a new look as the waste generated from the entire city was reduced by a little more than half over a month, since the nationwide lockdown was enforced to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The average waste collected from Patna was around 1,300 tonnes every day before the lockdown, according to officials of the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC). This was reduced to around 600 tonnes now, the officials said.

“There is a drastic fall in waste collection as of now,” Patna mayor Sita Sahu told Down to Earth on April 27, 2020.

One of the primary reasons for this was that all of the city’s restaurants, hotels, roadside dhabas and food stalls were shut. “Hotels, restaurants, malls, supermarkets, industries, factories and educational institutions significantly contribute to waste generation, but they all are closed now, leaving the city clean,” said Sahu.

Indradeep Chandravanshi, a PMC councillor, however, blamed migrants or ‘outsiders’ for dirtying city streets.

“We found the original residents of Patna behaved responsibly by not throwing garbage on the streets or out in the open. They hand over garbage to collection vans,” Chandravanshi said, adding that the city was being kept clean despite a reduced workforce.

Residents stull bought food, which meant waste was still being generated, but was reduced because they were not venturing outside.

PMC currently has 7,669 staff members — including 1,669 permanent employees, 4,000 daily wagers and 2,000 outsourced staff — engaged in keeping Patna clean, according to officials.

Around 20-30 per cent of them did not report for work, as they stayed in remote areas and were unable to travel because of the lockdown.

The city also engages 800 garbage collection vans for the door-to-door collection of waste, officials said.

Ravi Prakash, another PMC councillor, said the lockdown proved to be a blessing in disguise for the city. The city’s population had become aware of the importance of saving food, said Prakash. “What we failed to do despite all efforts earlier, has been suddenly achieved,” he added.

An unfortunate side-affect of less waste generation, however, was that the hundreds of stray dogs that populated Patna, were left to starve. The dogs survived on waste and leftover food that was discarded by the city’s hotels and restaurants, that have now shut.

Veterinary officials said the dogs barked furiously these days as they were hungry. “Stray dogs have become very aggressive these days as they are going hungry,” said Ravindra Kumar, Bihar Veterinary College’s research director. “Common residents too have nearly stopped giving leftovers. This has left dogs starving,” he added.

Some organisations and samaritans, however, were taking care of the animals, but the help received at this level leaves a lot to be desired.

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