India alone generate more than 1,00,000 metric tonnes (MT) of solid waste every day, which is higher than many countries’ total daily waste generation, Mr Y.S. Chowdary, Minister of State, Ministry of Science & Technology said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.
“Large metropolis such as Mumbai and Delhi generate around 9000 metric tonnes and 8300 metric tonnes of waste per day, respectively”. “India suffers from inefficient and insufficient waste infrastructure and also from increasing rates of solid waste generation per capita. Issues of service quality and waste quantity need to be handled together. Besides, the infrastructure and technologies, we must also concede that we have not addressed the issue from a systemic perspective,” said Mr Chowdary while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Conference on 5th National Conference & Awards on Waste to Wealth.
He also said that the management of solid waste through collection, processing, transportation and disposal in India is the responsibility of urban local bodies (ULBs). ULBs are responsible for segregated waste collection, transporting waste in covered vehicle, processing, recyclables, separating domestic hazardous waste and disposing inert material in sanitary landfills. But most ULBs in India struggle to provide efficient waste management services due to financial problems, lack of infrastructure and technology, and a lack of involvement from the private sector and non-governmental organisations.
“We all generate waste and we want the government to handle the waste generated by us. When I say that, waste management is a totally public funded or government funded activity. This is not the case in many parts of the world. That has to change, as the burden can’t be local government or urban local bodies,” said Mr Chowdary.
Mr. Chowdary further said that the Indian government has taken up a number of initiatives to augment the country’s waste management infrastructure. Under the Jawaharlal Nehru Renewal Mission, the government of India funded 49 solid waste management projects in various cities between 2006 and 2009.
“Solid waste management was made a priority in the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, which is a part of India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change. At present, the Central government has been implementing Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a cleanliness campaign emphasising waste management at different stages of generation, collection, and disposal”, added Mr. Chowdary.
Another national level initiative aimed at improved waste management is the Smart Cities mission under which 100 cities will be provided with significant funding to improve civic services infrastructure. In smaller cities, the Central government has started a partner scheme, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, aimed at improving urban infrastructure. State governments also provide financial support to ULBs to improve their waste management system under various schemes and programs. As a result of these initiatives, many Indian cities have taken steps towards implementing good solid waste management practices aimed at community-based waste segregation and collection, public-private partnerships and investments in modern technology.
“It is high-time that we realize waste management is not only essential from a public welfare perspective. It can also contribute to economic growth, if the recycling industry is promoted alongside eco-industrial production. Such an integrated approach would put India at an advantage while managing its growing solid wastes”, pointed out Mr. Chowdary.
We should work towards addressing the role of informal sector in solid waste management, and introducing economic instruments in waste management, said the Minister.
Other who also spoke during the conference were Mr Arild Oksnevad, Counsellor, Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Norway, Mr V. Vaidyanathan, VP, Head Environment, JSW Steel Limited, Dr K.D. Gupta, Chairman, ASSOCHAM National Council on Waste Management and Mr D.S. Rawat, Secretary General.