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HCFI Dr KK Aggarwal Research Fund Round Table Environment Expert Zoom Meeting on “Challenges in Municipal Waste Management: Failure of system”

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Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    30 January 2023

January 15, 2023, Sunday 

12 noon – 1 pm

  • All municipalities face some challenges in municipal waste management. These can be in the form of funds, manpower, implementation of rules, mixed waste, no source segregation, very limited door to door collection of segregated waste, limited decentralized waste facility, limited materials recovery facilities  (MRF), lack of microplanning.
  • Many private organizations are helping the municipality but despite this the situation is very critical in most municipalities.
  • An essential prerequisite for a successful primary waste collection is a very strong collaboration among the municipal authorities, community groups, households and private sector. Low cost solutions are also a prerequisite as all municipalities cannot afford a waste to energy plant. Therefore, a very strong political and administrative will is required for management of solid waste as per rules and in a very practical way.
  • The biggest challenge is that cities do not have facility for management of solid waste. So the first requirement is to have a space for management. Procuring funds and their management for such activities is a challenges.
  • MSW Rules are a part of the Environment Protection (EP) Act, which is an umbrella act for both air and water. In the EP Act there are two basic rules under which the rules have been framed. One is the precautionary principle and second is the polluter pay principle. Both need to be applied. It has to be seen how the two will meet the challenges of MSW management.
  • Under the precautionary principle, the required resources (space, infrastructure, manpower, machinery, money, material and management plan) have to be there so that the waste gets treated in a proper environment-friendly manner.
  • There is a need to sufficiently defined money for all steps of waste management.
  • Waste management is probably a more alarming problem than the pollution problem prevailing in the country. 
  • There is a concept of user charges, paid by the persons generating the waste, which was for the first time introduced in statutory shape in the 2016 rules. But these charges have not yet been made applicable.
  • All municipal corporations should enforce the user charges by policy advocacy or through litigation. These should be paid to persons dealing with waste management. The amount can be determined either by plot size or the number of persons in the household. The money can be collected through electricity bill or it can be paid online to the persons dealing in waste. Rajasthan is working on a mechanism for implementation of user charges for each household. 
  • The biggest problem in waste management is lack of awareness among the masses. Even if there is awareness, people don’t implement the rules.
  • Waste management has been considered as an unachievable subject by many. 
  • NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome is another challenge.
  • Multiple agencies are involved in waste management – NGOs, Departments, informal sector.
  • Reconciliation of data or information is missing. There is no accountability. No audit takes place.
  • The best practices presently are at a very small levels. They have to be taken to the mass level..
  • There is no technical review. Once a plant is established, whether it is functioning or not, is not assessed.
  • Frequent transfers of staff in the local bodies. The result is that no one understand the subject in depth.
  • There is lack of willingness to work, both in the private and government sectors.
  • The aforementioned issues have piled up because of which it has become a huge challenge. Attention to the actual problem is missing.
  • There is no lack of funds. The problems is in the procedure of disbursement of funds.
  • People are generating waste with no accountability. If they have to pay for this, this may act as a check.
  • Waste generation has to be captured at the polluter pay principle. There has to be adequate infrastructure.
  • Monitoring of data reported is required.
  • Punitive action and their enforcement is also a challenge in India.
  • Most agreements of municipal bodies are based on C&T (collection and transport) principle and tipping fee which is based on the waste load. The contracts need to be remodelled on waste recovery parameter.
  • The correlation between health and solid waste management is still not known. It is being considered from the environment point of view.
  • The health ministry, public health officers must be involved in this and explain to them how the waste management is another pandemic in the making.
  • There are gaps in data and there is misinformation. We have to move away from data management and bring back the foundation of urban local bodies.
  • Waste minimisation and waste incineration should be the last options. Incinerators are highly capital intensive projects with lot of uncertainty.
  • We should deliberate on what is possible at household level so that generation is less.
  • Polluter pay principle is essential for industries, but may not be necessary for individuals as a large majority of people cannot afford to do so. 
  • Behavioral change takes time. We have to work together and things should move in a synchronised manner.

 

Participants

 

Dr Anil Kumar

Mr Pradeep Khandelwal

Mr Sanjiv Kumar

Dr Dipankar Saha

Mr Neeraj Tyagi

Mr Rupesh Trivedi

Mr Sanjeet Purohit

Ms Ruchika Sethi Takkar

Dr Shahla Gondal

Dr S Sharma

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