Solid waste policy in India
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Solid waste policy in India specifies the duties and responsibilities for hygienic waste management for cities and citizens of India. This policy was framed in September 2000, based on the March 1999 Report of the Committee for Solid Waste Management in Class 1 Cities of India to the Supreme Court, which urged statutory bodies to comply with the report’s suggestions and recommendations. These also serve as a guide on how to comply with the MSW rules. Both the report and the rules, summarized below, are based on the principle that the best way to keep streets clean is not to dirty them in the first place. So a city without street bins will ultimately become clean and stay clean. They advocate daily doorstep collection of “wet” (food) wastes for composting, which is the best option for India. This is not only because composting is a cost-effective process practiced since Vedic times, but also because India’s soils need organic manures to prevent loss of fertility through unbalanced use of chemical fertilizers.
Municipality Solid Waste Rules To stop the present unplanned open dumping of waste outside city limits, the MSW rules have laid down a strict timetable for compliance: improvement of existing landfill sites by end-2001, identification of landfill sites for long-term future use and making them ready for operation by end-2002, setting up of waste-processing and disposal facilities by end-2003, and provision of a buffer zone around such sites. Biodegradable wastes should be processed by composting, vermicomposting etc. and landfilling shall be restricted to non-biodegradable inert waste and compost rejects.
The rules also require municipalities to ensure community participation in waste segregation (by not mixing “wet” food wastes with “dry” recyclables like paper, plastics, glass, metal etc.) and to promote recycling or reuse of segregated materials. Garbage and dry leaves are not allowed to be burnt. Biomedical wastes and industrial wastes are not allowed to be mixed with municipal wastes. Routine use of pesticides on garbage has been banned by the Supreme Court on 28.7.1997.
Littering and throwing of garbage on roads is prohibited. Citizens should keep their wet (food) wastes and dry (recyclable) wastes within their premises until collected, and must ensure delivery of wastes as per the collection and segregation system of their city, preferably by house-to-house collection at fixed times in multi-container handcarts or tricycles (to avoid manual handling of waste) or directly into trucks stopping at street corners at regular pre-informed timings. Dry wastes should be left for collection by the informal sector (sold directly to waste-buyers or given free or otherwise to waste-pickers, who will earn their livelihood by taking the wastes they need from homes rather than from garbage on the streets. High - rises, private colonies, institutions should provide their own big bins within their own areas, separately for dry and wet wastes.
Report of a Committee for Solid Waste Management in Class 1 Cities of India to the Supreme Court The report recommends that cities should provide free waste collection for all slums and public areas, but charge the full cost of collection on “Polluter-Pays” Principle, from hotels, eateries, marriage halls, hospitals & clinics, wholesale markets, shops in commercial streets, office complexes, cattle - sheds, slaughter - houses, fairs & exhibitions, inner-city cottage industry & petty trade. Debris and construction waste must be stored within premises, not on the road or footpath, and disposed of at pre - designated sites or landfills by builder, on payment of full transport cost if removed by the Municipality.
For improved work accountability, “pin-point” work assignments and 365-day cleaning are recommended, with fixed beats for individual sweepers, including the cleaning of adjoining drains less than 2 ft deep. Drain silt should not be left on the road for drying, but loaded directly into hand-carts and taken to a transfer point . Silt and debris should not be dumped at compost - plant.
The quantities of garbage collected and transported need to be monitored against targets, preferably by citizen monitoring, through effective management information systems and a recording weigh - bridge: computerised for 1 million+ cities. At least 80% of waste-clearance vehicles should be on-road, and two-shift use implemented where there is a shortage of vehicles. Decentralised ward-wise composting of well-segregated wet waste in local parks is recommended, for recycling of organics and also for huge savings in garbage transport costs to scarce disposal sites.
The report also recommends that waste-management infrastructure should be a strictly-enforced pre-condition in new development areas. It advocates temporary toilets at all construction sites (located on the eventual sewage-disposal line) and restriction of cattle movement on streets. Livestock should be stall-fed or relocated outside large cities.
Cities must fulfil their obligatory functions (like waste management) before funding any discretionary functions, while being granted fiscal autonomy to raise adequate funds. Solid-waste-management and other charges should be linked to the cost-of-living index, along with levy of “administrative charges” for chronic littering. Funds should be earmarked for minimum expenditure on solid waste management: Rs 100 per capita per year in 5-lakh-plus cities, or a minimum of Rs 50 per capita in smaller towns. Many cities are already providing conditional funding to residential areas or colonies willing to take responsibility for improved waste-management of their respective areas.
The Supreme Court intends to monitor compliance with the MSW rules through the High Courts in each State. This gives all citizens both the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that hygienic waste-management becomes a reality, soon.
Solid Waste Policy in India.