SC Demands Details From Centre On Waste Management Rules In Cities
For a country like India that houses a population of 1.2 billion, generation of solid municipal waste, which measures up to 60 million tonnes annually has become a grave concern. Despite its action against open defecation under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the government is yet to achieve success as it continues to struggle with piles of solid waste generated across cities. Considering the rising number of deaths due to dengue and chikungunya, the Supreme Court has sought details from the Centre on steps taken to implement Solid Waste Management rules across the country.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) notified Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM) in 2016. According to the rules, any residential, institutional or industrial building constructed on a plot of 5,000 square metre area or larger, must mandatorily treat its waste water and solid waste to mitigate the damage to the environment
The biggest challenge the country faces is the smooth execution of the plans and a centralised system for recycling or conversion of waste to energy. This has also brought to focus the need for decentralised management of municipal waste.
Environmental and health hazards
Unscientific waste disposal is a serious threat to the environment and people. The key elements of such solid waste include plastic, e-waste, biomedical or hazardous waste, and construction and demolition waste. This is the major cause of several vector-borne diseases (VBDs) as it affects the population living near the garbage dump, waste workers and animals. VBDs such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya, lymphatic filariasis and Japanese encephalitis (JE) are caused due to the proliferation of mosquitoes and other vectors around the waste dump.
A bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to file an affidavit within four weeks regarding implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The bench has highlighted that the number of deaths (due to VBDs) has increased in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra. However, it said that the number in Delhi has significantly reduced, as the city has recently developed a policy on disposal of garbage.
Need of the hour
Metropolitans like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai produce waste to the tune of about 10 million tonnes every day. In 2014, when the government launched Swachh Bharat Mission, the funds allocated towards solid waste management (SWM) was Rs 7,424 crore out of which only Rs 1,465 crore has been sanctioned for the same. While its other initiative of construction of toilets has been successful, the core issue of organized garbage and waste processing has taken a back seat. This has resulted in dumping on vacant plots, streets and open drains, thus building an unhygienic environment.
The liveability quotient in cities is being damaged not due to the generation of waste, but due to the ineffective waste management mechanisms and policies. Effective waste management seeks about 20-50 per cent of the municipal expenditures which is expensive and thus calls for better and integrated systems which are sustainable, and implemented through social support.
Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has sent out notices to housing societies and establishments generating over 100 kg of waste daily to treat garbage on their own premises. Following this, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) too has served notices to nearly 1,000 residential complexes and commercial units under Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 to segregate waste at source and composting wet waste in society premises itself.
Noida: According to an official of The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), the board had sent notices to 150 buildings in Noida asking them to comply with solid waste management rules, 2016. However, except three, 147 housing societies are yet to comply with the norms. The city produces around 660 metric tonnes per day.
Similarly, civic authorities in Aurangabad have missed the target of setting up of several dry waste sorting centres in the city, as promised by former mayor Tryambak Tupe in 2016.