States commit to waste segregation at source, but decentralisation not yet a priority

Decentralised solutions will cut transportation costs and make households and institutions part of the solution

By Sonia Henam
Published: Tuesday 11 April 2017
The states need to push for decentralised approaches for soild waste management. Credit: SuSanA Secretariat / Flicker
The states need to push for decentralised approaches for soild waste management. Credit: SuSanA Secretariat / Flicker The states need to push for decentralised approaches for soild waste management. Credit: SuSanA Secretariat / Flicker

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently came out with a response on action plan submitted by states for Solid Waste Management (SWM). This was following a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order dated December 22, 2016 to 35 states/union territories (UTs) of India to submit their state action plans for solid waste management to the CPCB. Out of 35, only 25 states and two UTs have submitted their respective State Action Plans and eight states/UTs are yet to respond to the CPCB for action plan.

It has been exactly a year since the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016 were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). Under the section 6(b) of the MSW rules 2016, all the state governments and UTs had to prepare an action plan within six months from the date of notification of these rules. The plans were submitted long after the six-month deadline lapsed.

Timeline of events

NGT, in its order dated December 22, 2016, directed every state and UT to implement the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 in all respects and submit the State Action Plan before July 1, 2017.

As per the order, any state or UT, failing to comply with the statutory obligations, shall be liable to be proceeded against in accordance with Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Besides that, it would be liable to pay environmental compensation as imposed by the tribunal. Also, the senior-most officer-in-charge in the state government or Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) shall be personally proceeded against for violation of the Rules and orders passed by this Tribunal.

Major highlights of the Action Plan of the states and UTs

Most of the states have committed to achieve 100 per cent segregation at source and door-to-door (DTD) collection. While states such as Bihar, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have adopted a cluster approach for waste management, states such as Goa, Maharashtra and Jharkhand are pushing for decentralised approaches for waste management. Also, most of the states have not modified their bye-laws—including penalties for littering or non-segregation—and have not revised the user fees.

As per a CPCB official, even the 27 states, which have submitted action plans, have not given a detailed plan and they lack uniformity. Moreover, states are free to make their own individual plans based on the December 22, 2016 NGT judgement that focussed on segregation, treatment and scientific disposal of MSW. “Different states and UTs have different needs and demands for waste management, hence, no uniformity,” the official quoted.   

Some of the plans submitted by states and UTs:

South India

  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Port Blair MC): The action plan focuses on wastes management by DTD collection, segregation, transportation, processing and land filling. Time target for DTD and 100 per cent processing have been given. Also, the Port Blair Municipal Corporation (PBMC) has formulated the SWM bye-laws, 2016. However, the action plan doesn’t talk about integrating informal sectors and composting organic wastes to the bulk generators.
  • Andhra Pradesh: Guidelines for source segregation, collection and transportation of solid wastes have been prepared and the work has been outsourced for three years. Project management unit at state level to assist ULBs at regional and state level for conducting workshops, trainings and creating awareness. Ten clusters have been established for Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) by Swachh Andhra Corporation and 10 waste-to-energy (WTE) projects have been proposed. Fifty-seven ULBs will be addressed through composting, refuse-derived fuel (RDF), biomethanation and biofuels. Market subsidies for compost, compost price and tipping fee were announced.
  • Lakshadweep: Organic waste is not assessed. Nine islands have installed incinerators. Minicoy has two biogas plants and has proposed 500 biogas plants by 2018. Ten compost plants have been proposed for agricultural waste and three WTE plants for generating electricity.
  • Tamil Nadu: Action plan highlighted DTD collection being done by ULBs, and 25 per cent segregation in municipalities and 70 per cent in panchayats. The plan also mentioned that 94 municipalities and 400 town panchayats have been sanctioned fund for composting. Also, common landfill sites are under plan with provision of buffer zone and green belts. Plastic wastes are managed separately. Lastly, the draft policy on SWM is being prepared and to be finalised by April 2017.
  • Telangana: Action plan listed out the activities that will take place in a time-bound manner. It mentioned awareness drive, creating inventory of bulk generators and identification of landfill sites and material recovery facility. It also announced the formation of an Advisory Committee, preparation of state policy and bye-laws, development of detailed project report (DPR), waste processing, disposal facilities and reclamation/ biomining of old dump sites. It has committed to 100 per cent DTD collection by June 2017 and onsite composting of horticultural waste by March 2018.
  • Puducherry: Directions have been given to ULBs for implementation of SWM rules, 2016. Collection and transportation of waste is being done through authorised agents. Biogas plants for treating biodegradable wastes have also been installed by three major waste generators. The state policy/ action plan is yet to be received from the administration.

West India

  • Goa:Goa mentioned implementing 100 per cent segregated waste collection, DTD collection of wet waste daily and dry waste, 100 per cent primary (secondary) storage facilities and composting. The ULBs will have to identify land and submit proposal for construction of scientific landfill. The state will levy user charge as per waste generators and they have to implement it in a time-bound manner. Goa has already formed the state-level Advisory Body to review the matters related to implementation of these rules and to give advice on state policy and strategy on MSW by March 15, 2017. No information is made available on its progress.

  • Gujarat: The Action plan highlighted segregation of waste into three streams in each municipality, DTD collection and transport to compost plant, arrangement for selling compost, collection of recyclables and selling them to vendors. It also announced the plan to notify state policy and involve self help groups. Offering training to waste pickers and staff, levying user fee and community-based home composting were also mentioned. Biogas production will start by from June 30, 2017.
  • Maharashtra: Maharashtra is still in the process of preparing state policy on SWM and formation of state-level Advisory Board in accordance with the provision of the SWM Rules, 2016. It has created a separate Directorate called “Swachh Maharashtra Mission (Urban)” for implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission with necessary infrastructure and support from national and international agencies. Various capacity programmes are conducted for ULB officials with the support from national and global agencies. To encourage ULBs, the state has developed a brand (HARIT MAHA City Compost) for marketing compost generated from organic waste in ULBs. Integration of informal sectors is mentioned in the policy. Tipping fees will be based on processing and treatment.
  • Rajasthan: Action plan for SWM was formulated by the Department of local self government of Rajasthan emphasising DTD collection and segregation. Seventy-one DPRs have been approved and 117 DPRs are being reworked upon. In addition, cluster approach has been proposed for 47 ULBs. Moreover, RDF and compost plant in 23 towns and WTE plant in one town (Jodhpur) have been proposed.

North and Northeast India

  • Haryana: Fifteen cluster towns have been considered for setting up WTE and compost plants. Initiatives have been taken under SBM for the followings: awareness campaign, ward-level committees, sanitation plan, public feedback, 100 per cent DTD collection and ban on plastic bag.
  • Punjab: A state-level SWM plan has been prepared for eight clusters: (1) Jalandhar, (2) Ludhiana, (3) Bathinda, (4) Ferozepur, (5) Patiala, (6) Amritsar, (7) Pathankot and (8) GMDA. However, this approach has not been very successful. Most of the proposed processing plants have faced community protests.
  • Himachal Pradesh: State-level Advisory Body has already been formed. DTD collection shall be taken up in a phased manner. There will be a formation of clusters and mini-clusters in consultation with the ULBs within six months. Segregation at source shall be implemented within 24 months into three streams. A waste processing plant will be setup for waste generated from all the ULBs and semi–urban areas that are included in the clusters. Suitable Clusters shall be formed for construction of sanitary landfill.
  • Manipur: The state has prepared DPR for Department of Municipal Administration, Housing & Urban Development (MAHUD) where upgradation of a compost plant to WTE plant will take place by August 2017 in Imphal city. However, as per a CPCB official, Manipur does not require a WTE plant. The plan also talks about assessment of waste, collection, segregation of waste and mass awareness through NGOs. The state has mentioned plans for processing waste, developing site for waste disposal in identified cluster and capping existing dump sites in a time-bound manner.

East India

  • Odisha: It has prepared an action plan, model bye-laws for municipalities and Odisha Urban Sanitation policy. Under the action plan, wards of 112 census towns will target DTD collection of 100 per cent segregated waste by December 2018. The plan mentions a timeline for identification of land for setting up processing and landfill facility, setting up of processing and landfill facility, setting up common regional sanitary landfill facilities, procurement of suitable sites for setting up solid waste processing facility and sanitary landfill facilities. It also talks about segregation of biodegradable, recyclable, combustible, sanitary waste, domestic hazardous and inert solid wastes at source and ensure DTD collection of segregated waste and its transportation in covered vehicles to processing or disposal facilities.
  • Jharkhand: Out of the total 43 ULB’s land, 27 ULBs have already been given land for scientific landfill. Fifteen ULBs have identified the land and the process of transfer, acquisition or purchase of the same is ongoing. Only one new ULB in Chhatarpur is in the process of identifying land. Preparation of DPRs and approval for all the 27 ULBs are under process. Sixteen DPRs have already been prepared out of which 13 have already been given administrative approval. However, the plan has no highlight on treatment and processing.

Where are the action plans heading to?

From the submissions made by the states, it is clear that the issue is not whether waste management should be decentralised or centralised. The question is how waste will be processed and reused. However, it is clear that decentralised solutions will cut transportation costs and make households and institutions part of the solution. Many states have gone for a cluster approach. But, as more waste gets generated, more land will be required. Hence, many more clusters will be needed.

Do we have lands available?

The focus  should be on waste minimisation, segregation, treatment and processing closer to the source.

It is also clear that cost of transport is a key component of waste management and the farther the site, the more will be the burden on the municipal budget. Also, waste-to-energy plants shall not function without segregation, which many ULBs have proposed, including some of the fragile biodiversity-rich states such as Manipur and Himachal Pradesh.

We clearly need well-defined plans for ULBs that focus on waste minimisation, segregation, treatment and processing closer to the source and scientific disposal of inert waste.

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