When I waited for a wastebasket for long to dispose of a wrapper of wafers, it became evident that without the ancillaries, the Clean India project cannot serve the purpose. Why was that man throwing away the paper plate on the railway track and not in the bin was the question that the same person rebutted with saying that the railway station does not host wastebaskets in proportion to the stretch. Ok, the government or other local bodies would pay heed to the concern and let us hope that public places will have adequate measures enabling people to get rid of unwanted things. Once we are off, the management/ disposal of this waste comes into the picture, which unless taken care of, will make a fuss of the dream mission of the Indian PM. It is true that news channels cover the tip of the iceberg, while beneath is the massive anxiety, proper management of the accumulated waste. Tell me, have you not seen overflowing garbage containers? And the waste collected is then dumped in abandoned stretches of land, recognized as landfills. Just forget separation of biodegradable waste from the non-biodegradable one or any other measures for treatment of the collected solid waste by the municipality.
The Report of the Committee for Solid Waste Management, in 1999, recommended that the composting of food wastes is the most effective process that has to be followed in view of Indian soil which needs organic measures to do away with loss of fertility and for lesser reliance on chemical fertilizers. As per a study of the Central Pollution Control Board, Indian urban parts generate almost 1.3 lakh tons of solid waste every day, figure that is massive and not something that can be allowed to be just put away in landfills. The honorable Supreme of India constituted the committee mentioned above and urged the authorities to comply with the suggestions, which aimed at reducing the unplanned open dumping of waste by advancement of landfill sites, arranging for waste processing and adequate disposal facilities, and restricting dumping in landfills to only the waste that does not allow its composting. Let me also tell you that the MSW Rules prohibit any littering and throwing of garbage on roads, and bestow upon the shoulders of Indians the responsibility to deliver amassed waste as per the collection and segregation system of the city. On the contrary, open burning of solid waste and landfill fires are prevalent.
Along with all other venues of pollution, this burning adds Carbon Monoxide, Particulate Matter, Sulfur Dioxide, and Hydrocarbons to air, which is far more harmful than unclean roads and other public places. Countries such as Africa, Thailand and Netherland have depicted how nations, though not that commercially robust, can handle management of solid waste. Not just have they managed the waste well, but have also created wealth and jobs, along with reducing carbon footprints and climate disruption issues. India, the country that is now being looked upon as a preferred investment location, will certainly become an industrially rich nation, but the content of solid waste will upsurge too. Then if the PM will look at the ‘Make in India’ and the ‘Clean India’ campaign collectively, not only does he need to better the corporate milieu, but also needs to push reforms in the waste management domain. Limited budget for waste treatment, ill-equipped municipal bodies, and lack of efficiency in amassing waste are some visible bottlenecks apart from the approach of garbage collectors and even the common man who disposes the same in any and every possible manner. Yamuna in Delhi is in actuality not flowing owing to the toxic waste that reacts with water and white deposits accumulated at the surface.
While boiling down to the solutions, putting into practice the recommendations of the MSW Committee seems workable enough. The same suggests that at least 80 per cent of waste-clearance vehicles should be on-road, with double shifts in case of scarcity. It recommends that waste management infrastructure should be an indispensable part in new development areas, something that can be linked with the ‘100 smart cities’ plan of the government. Waste treatment and such other ancillary charges are to be linked with the cost of living index, along with levy of administrative charges for chronic littering. In terms of work for the municipal bodies, biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste is to be separated, where the former can be subjected to composting, while the latter can be recycled, with plastic, paper and metal then serving as bent resource. Regularizing use of compost product, derived from waste, in agriculture and combustion of rest in a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility so as to recover energy has to be thought over.
The waste-to-energy models need thorough analysis and the same can be executed by considering a strategic PPP model. In Okhla region of Delhi, a private concessionaire manages a large scale waste to energy project, wherein 1500 metric tonnes of waste is processed every day to produce power. Similar other projects are being run in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Japan is the largest user in the world in the thermal treatment of MSW with 40 million tonnes; numerous thermal treatment plants therein are using the process ‘Direct Smelting’. How can the PPP model in the WTE setup help India can be viewed in a way that the solid waste, which currently is gathered by the municipal bodies can be allowed to be processed by private companies for generating energy by utilizing the lands of municipalities. Municipal bodies can share the revenues and MSW can act a revenue-generating asset, thus relieving them from the burden of disposing. All in all, not just ‘Clean India’, the apt ruler of India will have to extend the same to a sustainable solid waste management structure for escaping environmental pollution, improving the lives in urban India and trimming down diseases.