Having worked for 18 years at Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Mahendra Pandey is actively working as an environmentalist. He spoke to HT about the problems plaguing waste management in Delhi.
What ails Delhi’s waste management?
No proper segregation and disposal takes place. There is no proper assessment of its quantity yet. The composition of waste has also not been studied. Waste-to-energy and compost plants are ineffective.
Why have these plants failed?
There’s no proper segregation. These plants need dry waste. As for composting, you need a huge market. At present, most compost plants do not have a big enough market.
What’s the way forward?
It is the wrapping and packing culture which has increased the waste amount manifold. The CPCB had done an experiment in the New Delhi Municipal Council area, allowing rag-pickers to do the segregation. They were allotted certain garbage bins, and the project had a massive impact.
So you suggest integration?
Waste management has strong social aspects which are always overlooked. Technology alone won’t solve the problem as there is a large force of rag-pickers whose work begins early in morning and lasts till late in the night. They do us a great favour. They sort out whatever is recyclable and sell them to kabariwala. But they are overlooked.
Are the municipal corporations doing enough?
With their limited resources, nothing more can be expected of these corporations. They lack dedicated staff too. The government must step in. Proper long-term study of all aspects of waste management and social behaviour related to garbage production and management must be conducted followed by planning with several economists, environmentalists and social experts.