Small cities take a big leap in managing waste; CSE recognises their innovative approach

Small cities such as Vengurla and Panchgani manage waste better and are innovative in their approach, shows a CSE report which assessed waste management models of 20 cities

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Friday 08 June 2018
Vengurla is one of the only towns in India which generates revenue from its waste. Credit: Wikimedia commons
Vengurla is one of the only towns in India which generates revenue from its waste. Credit: Wikimedia commons Vengurla is one of the only towns in India which generates revenue from its waste. Credit: Wikimedia commons

Vengurla, a small beach town in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, was awarded the Five Leaves Award for the best solid waste management practices by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Thursday.

CSE released the 2017-18 assessment report of the performance of 20 of these 26 ‘Forum cities’. The New Delhi-based non-profit had launched the Forum of Cities that Segregate on December 12, 2017. The forum now has 26 members, including cities such as Indore, Thiruvananthapuram, Mysuru, Muzaffarpur and some municipal corporations of Delhi-NCR such as South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and Gurugram.

The cities were judged on several parameters, including segregation at source (household, commercial and bulk generator level), collection of waste, its transportation, waste processing, adoption of decentralised systems, inclusion of informal recycling sector and enforcement of Solid Waste Management (SWM) bye-laws and enforcement of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

Out of all the 20 cities, Vengurla is the only one to receive five leaves. This is because the city has no landfills and it maximises resource utilisation. It also does more than 90 per cent segregation of waste at source.

Credit: CSE

Five cities received four leaves and another five cities got three leaves. Six cities got two leaves and one received only a single leaf. The National Capital Region did not perform well. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) received the two leaves award while Gurugram got one leaf only.

The leaves were awarded to cities in three categories of population—one million plus, 0.1-1 million, below 0.1 million.

ALSO READ: Vengurla is one of the only towns in India which generates revenue from its waste

Launching the report along with Central Pollution Control Board chairman S P Parihar, deputy director general of CSE Chandra Bhushan said one thing was very clear from the survey that the cities which segregated well got better rankings. “Those who do segregate do end up recycling too because they don't want to dump the waste in a landfill since they have already invested resources in segregation. Hence, the key lies in segregation,” he said and added, “It is not without a reason that Indore does well in Swachh Sarvekshan rankings because our survey said their segregation percentage is more than 90.” Other cities that stood at par with Indore in this parameter are Panchgani, Alappuzha and Vengurla. Incidentally, Patna, Gaya, Imphal, Gurugram, EDMC and SDMC figured in the bottom list with segregation percentages less than 30.

He also said that it is a common perception that solid waste management in general and segregation in particular is difficult for big cities. But Indore’s performance demolishes this argument. He clarified that CSE’s assessment is different from Swachh Sarvekshan because the latter takes into cognisance several factors, including sanitation and SWM while the former only considers SWM.

“Merely collecting and disposing wastes is not sufficient to clean our cities. What is required is source-segregation, proper treatment, recycle and reuse of the waste. Zero landfill should be the goal of municipal waste management in India,” said Bhushan.

The survey said most of the cities had good waste collection facilities. Patna, Muzaffarpur and Balaghat needed to work hard to ensure door-to-door waste collection. Most of the cities did well in terms of transportation of waste, too, with exceptions of Patna, Gaya, Bengaluru, Gangtok, Gurugram and Balaghat. Only six cities, including Indore, Mysuru, Alappuzha, Panchgani, Balaghat and Vengurla have wet waste recycling greater than 90 per cent. When it comes to processing of dry waste, four cities, including Indore, Panchgani and Vengurla scored more than 90 per cent.

Another critical indicator was disposal in landfills and dumpsites, as opposed to recycling, which is considered an unhealthy practice. Patna, Gaya and Gurugram performed the worst, dumping more than 75% waste. As far as enforcement of SWM bye-laws is concerned, only two cities—Indore and Vengurla—did well.

Parihar, in his keynote address, highlighted the importance of Information, Education and Communication activities to bring about behavioural change among people and encourage them to segregate waste and adopt health SWM practices. He also stressed upon building the cadre strength of urban local bodies.

“It is clear in our assessment that smaller cities have performed well and have been innovative in their approach,” said Swati Singh Sambyal, programme manager, environmental governance-waste management, CSE. This documentation report, according to her, would help cities perform better and continue to reinvent their SWM practices. 

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