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Solid Waste Management in Indian Cities
Sep 07, 2017

[GS Paper III: (Environmental Pollution and Degradation)]

Why in news?

On September 4, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued show-cause notices to the Delhi government, East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) over the collapse at Ghazipur landfill which claimed two lives. 

What is Solid Waste?

  • SW includes commercial and residential wastes generated in municipal or notified areas in either solid or semi-solid form excluding industrial hazardous wastes including bio-medical wastes.
  • It consists of household waste, wastes from hotels and restaurants, construction and demolition debris, sanitation residue, and waste from streets.

Solid Waste Management (SWM) in India

  • Indian urban centres generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Of this, about 68% is collected and only 19% of the collected waste is treated and the rest is dumped in landfill sites. 
  • SWM service is provided by municipal authorities in the country. However, almost all municipal authorities deposit solid waste at a dump yard within or outside the city. 

Issues concerning waste management in India 

  • Inadequate monetary funds, lack of technical expertise and unavailability of required land with the municipal bodies.
  • More than three-fourth of solid waste management budget is allotted to collection and transportation, leaving very little for processing or resource recovery and disposal. 
  • Absence of scientific methods of disposal and disregard for environment.
  • Lack of segregation of the waste at source.
  • Indifferent attitude of citizens at large  towards the problem of solid waste.

Consequences of improper waste management

  • Improper waste management results in environmental hazards like air and water pollution, soil contamination, spread of diseases etc. 
  • Dumping sites act as breeding sites for flies, mosquitoes, rats, dogs that prove detrimental to human health.
  • Landfill fires (caused due to release of methane during decomposition) and the landfill slide, like the recent one in Ghazipur (Delhi), are other problems emanating from improper waste management.  

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • These rules supersede the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2000 and expand the ambit of rule application to every urban local body, including outgrowths in urban agglomerations, census towns, areas under Railways and airports.
  • It puts the onus of segregation on the waste generator and require segregation into 6 categories – biodegradable, non-biodegradable, domestic-hazardous, sanitary, construction-demolition and horticulture. 
  • The Rules require setting up of a material recovery facility to enable informal/authorised waste collectors to sort out recyclable products.
  • The Rules forbid the throwing, burning, or burying the solid waste on streets, open public spaces, in the drain, or water bodies. 
  • They impose ‘user fee’ on the consumer and ‘spot fine’ for littering and non-segregation.

Kasturirangan Task Force Recommendations 

  • The K Kasturirangan task force (2014) recommended an integrated approach towards municipal solid waste management, stressing the need for segregation of waste at source with private sector help.
  • It recommended adoption of the principles of reduce, reuse, recover, recycle and remanufacture (5Rs).
  • It recommended setting up of centralised (incineration, gasification, pyrolysis) and decentralised (biomethanation, vermicomposting) waste processing facilities. 
  • Setting up Common Regional Sanitary Landfill Facility to reduce the land requirement.
  • It also recommended setting up of 215 Waste to Energy plants by 2031 through public-private partnerships (PPPs) with viability gap funding of up to 40 per cent.
Note: Viability Gap Funding (VGF) means a grant one-time or deferred, provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall short of financial viability.

Way Ahead 

  • The key to efficient waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste at source and to ensure that the waste goes through different streams of recycling and resource recovery.
  • Installation of waste-to-compost and bio-methanation plants would reduce the load of landfill sites.
  • Civic bodies should be well equipped both in terms of finances and human resource to redraw their long term vision in solid waste management that involves community participation as well.

Integrated Solid Waste Management System Hierarchy

waste


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