Kerala plans mandatory user fee to collect plastic waste

Thiruvananthapuram: Several households in Kerala would soon be paying more for removal of plastic waste than their property tax amount. This follows a recent decision of the Local Self-Government Department to strictly charge user fee for collecting plastic waste from houses, institutions and organisers of public events from April this year.

Amendments would be brought to the Panchayat and Municipality Rules for the purpose, said officials.

The proposed amendment will be scrutinized by the Assembly Subject Panel. On amendment of the rules, people approaching the local bodies for various services may have to produce the receipt or card for having paid the user fee along with the application. However, the administration of the local body could take a final decision on this matter.

Currently, members of the Haritha Karma Sena collect a user fee of Rs 50-100 a month from each household to remove plastic. The Sena functions with the support of Kudumbashree, among other organisations. As many houses in the state pay less than Rs 500 a year as property tax, they would have to spend more as user fee.

There are 30,890 Haritha Sena Members in Kerala and they are paid a fixed amount by Clean Kerala Company Ltd., a government undertaking. According to officials, the mandatory collection of user fee is suggested to ensure a minimum payment of Rs 10,000 a month to the Sena members.

Minister defends move

On the move to collect mandatory user fee, Local Self-Government Minister M B Rajesh praised the activities of the Haritha Karma Sena. “Sena members clear the waste we create not only for us but also for our common good. The user fee of Rs 50 per month fixed by the government for the purpose is not at all high,” he said.

The Minister also said that a common waste management policy will be implemented in the state. “The aim of this policy is to effectively process waste along with creating an income from it and ensuring jobs. The private sector also will be involved in the process,” he added.

A exhibition on the latest waste-management methods would also be organised in Kochi during February, the Minister said.

What Haritha Karma Sena does

Haritha Karma Sena members carry out door-to-door collection of non-biodegradable waste at specific dates every month. The items they accept include plastics, footwear, clothes and e-waste.

At some locations where biodegradable waste processing plants function, Sena members collect food and similar waste also. However, the fee charged is an additional Rs 200-400 per month.

At the same time, biomedical waste from houses such as used diapers, sanitary napkins and disposable syringes are not collected by most local bodies. But, some wards of the Kochi Corporation and the municipalities at Tripunithura, Thrikkakkara and Kalamassery accept these items, which are then taken to the Biomedical Processing Plant in Kochi.

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