Solid Waste Management Scenario in India

Solid waste refers to the unwanted, voluminous assorted mass of substances which may originate from domestic, industrial, commercial, infrastructure or institutional spheres which can be organic or toxic or hazardous or inflammable, infectious etc. solid material is generated from the combined day to day activities of the people in a particular locality. Waste is not created when a consumer throws items away. But, it is generated throughout the life cycle of a product, right from the raw material stage till its disposal. Management indicates proper clearance of this waste which is an essential aspect for the sanitation of the community. At present, solid waste management in urban areas include house hold garbage and residue collection, street sweeping, collecting sanitation residue etc. The entire responsibility of this waste management rests with the municipalities.

The municipal solid waste (management and handling) rules 1999, India, laid guidelines for this purpose. But it excludes industrial and hazardous waste, by including treated bio medical waste. Though rules are framed at the national level, each state should frame its own comprehensive solid waste management and sanitation strategy in overall conformity with the national plan because the quantity and quality of solid waste of a particular locality depend on the life style, standard of living, food habits, new technologies and services, and the availability of natural resources.  Degree of urbanization also adds up to the divergence in the solid waste generated. So, most of the urban areas are afflicted by the acute problems related to solid waste management, though rural areas are not exempted. The government has undertaken many programs like JNNURM by allotting funds; hardly any amount is spent on methodical disposal of waste. The government is handicapped in terms of experience and expertise to handle this diversified waste. This is coupled with the insensitivity and apathy residents and institutions like hospitals, industries etc. To ensure better services to the citizens, the Ministry of Environment and Forests gave several directives in the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Handling rules in 2000. They are as follows:

  • Prohibit litter on the street.
  • Storage of waste at source in two bins, one for bio degradable waste and the other for recyclable material.
  • Primary collection of bio degradable and non bio degradable waste from door steps at pre informed time on a day to day basis
  • Street sweeping covering all residential and commercial areas on all days except Sundays and holidays.
  • Abolition of open waste storage depots.
  • Transportation of waste in covered vehicles on a day to day basis.
  • Treatment of bio degradable waste using composting or waste energy technology.
  • Minimizing waste going to landfills and dispose only the rejects of treatment plants and inert materials at the landfills as per standards laid down in rules
  • The entire responsibility of implementing as well as development of required technology lies with the municipal bodies.

The environmental protection agencies take care of the compliance levels of the municipal bodies to the above notified rules. Though there is shortage of compliance, the above directives created certain amount of awareness among the local bodies. So there has been some progress in the positive direction during last few years. All these steps arouse certain awareness among common people also and consequently the private sector entered into the service. Non-governmental organizations are also playing active role in educating people on the importance of sanitation and the necessity for proper waste disposal. Steps are taken towards integrated solid waste management, where the public and private sectors go hand in hand. NGOs are also rendering their contribution significantly.

Privatization as an alternative to publicly provided waste management has been explored by many municipal corporations. Cities like Surat, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Vijayawada, Kolkata etc are using the private operator’s services for the waste management. Muncipal Corporation of Hyderabad has given sweeping of nearly 75% of its streets for outsourcing.  Similarly transportation and disposal are also given for outsourcing in many cities. Though the public private partnership is helping to achieve satisfactory level of waste management, the process is still nascent. There are many limitations towards successful implementation of the process. The present capacity of municipalities to manage privatization process is extremely limited.

There is an absolute need to develop in-house financial and managerial capabilities to award contracts and to monitor the services of the private operators because the final responsibility lies with the municipalities. Though the steps are already put in the right direction, the unity between the corporations and the private operators must go a long way to bring a radical change in the comprehensive solid waste management system.  

To be continued....


More by :  Aparna Duggirala

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