Waste Disposal in India
Waste administration rules in India are based on the philosophy of "sustainable development", "precaution" and "polluter pays". These ideology ordered municipalities and commercial establishments to act in an environmentally accountable and responsible manner restoring balance, if their actions disrupt it. The boost in waste generation as a by-product of economic development has led to various subordinate legislations for regulating the manner of disposal and dealing with generated waste made under the common law of Environment Protection Act, 1986 (EPA). Specific forms of waste are the subject matter of separate rules and require separate compliances, mostly in the nature of authorisations, maintenance of records and adequate disposal mechanisms.
With rapid urban development, the country is facing massive waste management challenge. Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites. Solid Waste Management (SWM) is one among the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep urban centres clean. However, almost all municipal authorities deposit solid waste at a dumpyard within or outside the city haphazardly. Experts believe that India is following a flawed system of waste disposal and management.
India’s Growing Waste Anguishes
India’s urban population of 429 million citizens produces a whopping 62 million tonnes of garbage every year. Out of this, 5.6 million tonnes is the plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is the biomedical waste, 7.90 million tonnes is hazardous waste and 15 lakh tonnes is e-waste. A staggering figure of forty-three million tonnes of Solid Waste is collected annually, out of which only 11.9 million, that is 22-28% is treated, while about 31 million tonnes of waste is left untreated and dumped at the landfill sites.
Conditions of Metro Cities
Major metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata generate about 10 million tonnes of garbage every day. The difficulty is not the enormous amount of waste generation, but how a huge chunk of garbage remains untreated every single day?.
Mumbai: Has only Three dumping grounds to handle the 9,600 metric tonnes of waste generated daily. The major landfill Deonar in this metro is about 90-year-old and is on the verge of collapsing. The garbage masses here is as tall as a five- or six-storey building, standing 15 metres high. Another landfill at Mulund has been functional since 1968. It’s spread across 25 hectares and is also way past its use-by date.
New Delhi: The capital city generates around 9,000 metric tonnes of waste every day and is already sitting on a ticking garbage bomb! Delhi has a total of 3 landfills, at Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalswa.
Lucknow : The capital of Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is most populated state in our country. It has diversity culture , language, spiritual cities like Mathura, Varanasi. Uttar Pradesh also has some big industrialized cities like Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Noida, with these positive thing Uttar Pradesh also have the tag of polluted cities in our country. Recently, Metro Rail service has started , it shows the economical development but on the other hand we are not able to manage the waste.
LMC is armed with 90 trucks, 200 small vehicles, 2,700 handcarts, 49 bulldozers and 4,200 sanitation workers to lift 1,500 metric tons of garbage from streets. But it is still not able to keep the city clean.
What we can do ?
In 2016, these rules were revised and renamed as the Solid Waste Management (SWM) rules which now extend to urban and industrial areas. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the SWM rules have been followed. Neither have the relevant agencies been empowered. The activist who had filed the petition earlier had suggested that a Solid Waste Management Cell should be formed for each state. According to the petitioner, such a Cell should reward the cities with good performance (as regards waste management) and fine those which do not follow the rules.
The key challenges to solving this problem are:
1. The agencies responsible for implementation have not been geared up and empowered.
2. Community engagement has not taken off.
3. Suitable infrastructure has not been developed, and the incentive system has not been altered successfully.
The possible solutions to these challenges can be:
1. Community engagement to drive deep behavioral changes.
A first step towards that can be the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s pitching model that involves citizens composting their waste and the civic agency buying it from them. These composts will be used in the city’s parks, before the waste is taken to waste plants. This will encourage people to start segregating and making composts at home. Other such initiatives can also be implemented.
2. The other solution to the challenge is inculcating the prowess to make right technological decisions.
For instance, the problem of plastic waste is a menace for the world, since the waste takes millions of years to degrade and causes a big threat to environment. However, an Indian professor in Madurai, Rajagopalan Vasudevan, has given us a possible solution to this problem by using this plastic to make long-lasting roads. A dumping ground in Mumbai’s Gorai was treated using herbal methods, enzymes and bacteria. This was another great initiative to solve the problems associated with landfill sites.
3. Political capital to make the requisite by-laws and enforcing them is the next solution to this problem. To ensure this, increasing taxes on fresh material may be increased, thereby encouraging people to start reusing materials.
4. Last but not the least, it needs to be ensured that human capital on a large scale follows all the aspects of this process – from planning, research to implementation. This is a solution which is being commendably followed by Kerala’s Alappuzha city, which was even placed second in the United Nations Environment Assembly’s list for smart waste management.
As individuals, we should always follow the 4Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) for efficiently handling our waste. Start segregating the waste at home into dry and wet waste. A major portion of the waste generated in India is wet waste, which can be converted to compost. So, start composting at home to turn wastes into resources.
It is very easy to blame the authorities instead of doing something constructive ourselves. It’s high time to realize the damage our own waste can do to our future. So, start working on it now, before it gets too late.