With just 33 per cent of country’s urban municipal waste being treated scientifically, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has painted a grim picture of India’s urban waste management, while terming it a possible cause for major health hazard in future.
Urban India generates 48 million metric tones of waste annually, i.e. 0.4 kg per capita, but less than half of the municipal bodies have the capacity to handle the waste safely, a CAG reported tabled in Parliament recently said.
Its impact, the CAG found, was visible in deterioration of the underground water resources near landfills. The water samples lifted from areas near landfills in Delhi, Punjab and Chennai were highly contaminated because of improper management of the sites. “Similar situation could be in other states where waste was not being treated scientifically,” the report said.
Near Bhalaswa open landfill site in Delhi, where thousands of people live, the groundwater’s dissolved solids and hardness content was 800 per cent and 633 per cent, respectively, more than the desirable limits, thereby making water unfit for human consumption.
Similar was the situation near Okhla open landfill site. “The underground water of both the landfill sites has been critically contaminated with leachate generated from the sites,” the report said. Groundwater samples from handpumps in Amritsar in Punjab and Pallikaranai in Tamil Nadu were also highly contaminated.
CAG, which conducted audit at the central and state government levels on waste management, was shocked to find that most municipal bodies didn’t have any projections about future generation of urban waste and plans to handle them.
“Even the environment ministry had no data on waste generated and future projections,” the report said, asking the ministry to come up with a separate policy on management of waste. CAG also found that funds allocated for waste management in Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were diverted.