Garbage collection reform in the Trans-Baikal Territory is stalled. During its implementation, it has not been possible to regulate the collection, transportation and disposal of garbage.
Unauthorized landfills, garbage dumps, scavenging dogs, and the terrible stench – all this is familiar to every Trans-Baikal resident.
It is High Time to say “Get out!” to MSW Operator in Trans-Baikal Territory
Chita has been long known as the “trash capital” of Russia, and it is unlikely that it will get rid of this title soon. The population blames the authorities for it, who claim that they are doing as much as they can.
The work of the regional operator is clearly assessed as unsatisfactory. Oleron+ fails to cope with garbage collection, illegally charging for the removal of solid waste, but it tries hard to stay afloat at the expense of the people of Transbaikalia and the help of the state. In two years, the budget financing amounted to almost 140 million rubles ($2.34 mln.)
From July 1, 2022 another increase in the tariff for MSW removal took place in the region by almost 20%. Certainly, the news related to the increase in fees for MSW removal would not sound so painful to people, if it were not for the endless complaints of residents about the quality of waste removal services, which suddenly become even more expensive. “The trash is not removed, but we are forced to pay money. Please, help!” Trans-Baikal residents write to the regional authorities.
What can we say about the construction of modern waste processing complexes, if the regional operator is not even able to organize waste removal from the container sites? The people of the Trans-Baikal Territory are still wading through mud.
“Oleron+ promised that there would be cars and containers, but in fact, there are none. Your collection rate is poor, and when will it be good? You say that the work with the population is going on, but we are convinced of the opposite. We hear the same thing for years, and we are tired of empty promises. We are waiting for tangible results from you,” said Yury Kon, speaker of Legislative Assembly of the Trans-Baikal Territory.
The law is designed so that if a citizen fails to fulfill the terms of a particular contract, he must be punished to pay all debts. The company is also responsible for fulfilling its obligations, but the fines for legal entities are ridiculous by the standards of a large-scale garbage disaster. The violation of one of the districts of the region is a vivid example. The fine is 5,000 rubles ($83.66.)
At the same time, the regional operator is still trying to appeal against the administrative offense revealed by the prosecutor's office. And now imagine how those who have to pay the standard fees for garbage collection feel, sometimes even unreasonable amounts, which to most people seem to be robbery?
Vyacheslav Chashchin, deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Trans-Baikal Territory, appealed to Governor Alexander Osipov about the fact that garbage is not removed from the villages of Krasnokamensky district for months. For example, during a meeting with voters in the village of Soktuy-Milozan, they complained to him that there were worms in a pile of garbage near a kindergarten.
Once again, looking at how the region, having a monopoly company for waste removal, continues to drown in waste, it is not the garbage collection reform that comes to mind, but the war, in which someone profits from the garbage, and someone is forced to live, figuratively speaking, in a dump.
Regional deputies propose to solve the garbage problems by stripping Oleron+ of its status as a regional operator for MSW handling. So far, this is just a suggestion, but not a solution.
Failed Garbage Collection Reform Leads to Death of Child
Responsibility for the incident in a statement by the press service of the Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory Alexander Osipov in connection with the death of a child in the village of Domna is also linked to the failure of the so-called garbage reform. According to it, “particular attention will be paid to the garbage collection schedule, which is one of the causes of accumulation of stray dogs.”
Recall that the tragedy happened in January of this year. The child was returning home from the music school when she was attacked by a pack of stray dogs in the street near the private sector that jumped on the girl and literally torn her apart, and no one had time to help.
After the girl did not return home in time, her parents became worried and contacted law enforcement. Half an hour later, the girl's body was found on one of the waste lots. The Investigative Committee opened a case under the article on negligence resulting in negligent death.
Ecology National Project is at Risk of Failure
Elimination of unauthorized dumps within cities is a very important environmental measure, which has not previously been implemented in the Trans-Baikal Territory. Thanks to the support of national projects the residents of the territory now have an opportunity to get rid of trash heaps.
The unauthorized historical landfill in the town of Nerchinsk has been in operation since 1970. About 800,000 tons of waste has accumulated there. In 2019, the site was included in the Clean Country federal project of the Ecology national project.
“Within the framework of the Ecology national project the regional Ministry of Finance allocated 17.6 million rubles ($294,465.6) for development of the design and estimate documentation for liquidation of two unauthorized dumps of solid waste with subsequent recultivation of land plots in Borza and Nerchinsk. In 2021, 18.6 million rubles ($311,196.6) will be allocated for realization of these measures,” said Vera Antropova, the head of Transbaikalian Ministry of Finance.
The state contract with Ecoproject for development of the project documentation on recultivation of the dump in Nerchinsk was signed on August 16th, 2021. The landfill is planned to be completely eliminated by 2023. After that, the area will be reclaimed.
“The liquidation of the facility and the reclamation of the disturbed land plot, in addition to its significant environmental value, have a significant positive social effect for the region and positive expectations among the residents of Nerchinsk. We will constantly report on the progress of the work and the results,” said Tamara Mikaelyan, head of the Department for Solid Waste Management of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Trans-Baikal Territory.
However, so far there is nothing much to report. The Ecoproject company, based in Perm, which received a state contract for 13.5 million rubles ($225,868.5), has been preparing the project documentation for landfill reclamation for almost a year without any results. Residents of Nerchinsk and Borzha are again guessing where the allocated money will go – to clean up half a century old dumpsites, or again into the pockets of officials.
Given the situation Alexander Osipov, Governor of Trans-Baikal Territory, may fail in implementation of the federal project supervised by Deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko. In case of further inaction, the official risks being summoned to the government's desk, since the regions are already struggling to implement the Ecology national project, and the deadlines are getting tighter.
In 2019, Chita received the title of “trash capital of Russia” from the famous blogger Ilya Varlamov. There were many proceedings and scandals on this occasion. Some of the citizens agreed with him, and some were outraged and got offended but one thing remains unchanged. The problem of garbage removal, unauthorized landfills, overflowing landfills and the construction of modern waste processing complexes in the region and in Chita remains relevant to this day.