Government Policies in Support of Waste Management

A new act by the India Government has been put in place. The Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016 is to replace the previously enforced Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.

The difference in earlier rules and the newly formed rules is that the new rules go beyond the municipal areas of application. The SWM rules, 2016 include the many areas of application. This law ropes in urban agglomerations, census towns, industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian railways, airports, special economic zones; places of pilgrimage, religious & historical importance, State & Central government organizations in their ambit.

In support of reducing the high amounts of mixed organic waste and additional inorganic waste, the Government of India, under the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016, have made the following rules for execution.

Local bodies Institutions, market associations, event organizers, and hotels and restaurants are together responsible for segregation and waste management. In case of any gathering of more than 100 people, the organizers need to ensure segregation of waste at the source of consumption. The waste also needs to be handed over to the collectors as directed by the authority located nearby.

The first commendable initiative in this rules mandate is collection and disposal of sanitary waste. The focus is on spreading awareness about the proper disposal practices of sanitary waste that need to be utilized. This has been made the responsibility of the producer or the manufacturer to promoting awareness. They are also suggested by the law to provide convenience of disposal to the public. They need to provide pouch or wrapper for disposal of sanitary products.

The second commendable initiative in this rules mandate is the collect back scheme for packaging waste. The manufacturers or the brands whose product is sold in non- biodegradable packaging have to put in place a collection and proper disposal system. The responsibility is shifted on them since the producers are best to procure, handle and then dispose their solid waste.

The third commendable initiative in this mandate is the user fees for collection and a set ahead in Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. The local waste collection authorities all around India have the capacity to decide a specific amount of fee for the user of their services. “The Municipal authorities will levy user fees for collection, disposal and processing from bulk generator.”

Dual fines are applicable if decided so by the local authorities. User fee will be levied for collection of waste and “spot fine” for non- segregated littered waste. There is also a shift of rag pickers, waste pickers and the local kabadiwalas from the informal waste collection to the formal one. This positions them within the MCD jurisdiction at each locality. The rules hold zero tolerance policy for littering in any form, be it throwing, burning or burying solid waste. It is prohibited to litter on the streets, open public spaces, in the drain or water bodies.

The fourth commendable initiative in this mandate is the waste processing and treatment. The bio- degradable wasteneeds to go through processing, treatment and final disposal within the premises. There might be residue composite, which needs to disposed via waste collectors or as directed by the local authority. A 5 % of the total area or 5 plots/ sheds have to be dedicated by the developers of Special Economic Zone, industrial estate, and industrial park for recovery and recycling facilities.

This initiative also includes setting up of residential waste management facilities with a time limit. If the locality has a population of 1 million, the municipal bodies have to set up waste processing facilities in the area within 2 years. For census towns with a population of 0.5 million or more, landfills that are sanitary in nature have to be set up within three years of time. These may be common between a couple of towns or it may be individual for each township. With towns below 0.5 million population, land has to be segregated, and common or regional landfills have to be established within three years.

The fifth commendable initiative in this mandate is promotion of waste being converted to energy for smart cities. Fuel utilized by industrial units located within 100 km from a Refuse- Derived Fuel plant that is waste based, have to use 5% of fuel produced by this plant. This needs to be done with six months of notice sent. Infrastructural support had been lacking up till now. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy Sources needs to facilitate such creation of infrastructure that support Waste to Energy plants. A solid tariff is also proposed to ensure compulsory purchase of energy developed from such plants so that the environment is protected and these plants are in motion.

The sixth commendable initiative in this mandate is the constitution of a central monitoring committee. The government has constituted such a committee to monitor the execution of laws devised. Each year the committee stakeholders will meet to monitor the speed and execution of the laws devised.

Devised rules are as good as a paper. These need to be spread out in forms of massive awareness campaigns. The involvement of the general public is what will uphold the mandate to allow for smooth organic waste management regimes establishment in clean India. The realities are not shy on anyone with a few  challenges in front. Segregation of solid waste at the ground level, setting up of usable infrastructure, honest execution by the committee to name a few. Nonetheless, an initiative taken even in the form of a written mandate is a great progress even though the complete implementation is likely to take more than “just a few years”.