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Implementing India’s new waste management rules a challenge

India will need to bring 88 square kilometres of area under landfills by 2050 to tackle its burgeoning waste problem, a new report says.

health Updated: Jun 27, 2017 10:27 IST
The environment ministry passed six different sets of rules to tackle India’s waste problem.
The environment ministry passed six different sets of rules to tackle India’s waste problem.(HT File photo)

India will need to bring almost 88 square kilometres of area under landfills by 2050 to be able to tackle its burgeoning waste problem, a new report by ASSOCHAM-PwC, found.

Almost half of India’s population will be living in cities by 2050 the volume of waste is likely to grow by 5% every year. Tier I cities which have populations of 0.1 to 5 million will account for 80% of all the waste, according to the report.

It pointed to “improper planning for waste, a complex institutional set-up” and poor capacity for waste management as some of the key reasons why waste management is such a challenge in India.

On June 29, the environment ministry will launch a nationwide initiative that specifically targets personnel involved in waste management in cities that have more than 1 million population, and state capitals. There are 68 such cities and urban agglomerations, and the program will cover almost in the coming year.

Last year, the government passed a host of waste management rules and is now grappling with their implementation. Six sets of waste management rules were notified that dealt with different kinds of waste: solid waste, plastic, biomedical, construction and demolition, electronic waste and hazardous waste.

“In theory the rules are good, they are practical they can work but the people who need to implement them are spread across the country,” AN Jha, secretary, the ministry of environment, said. “They may not understand it and they may not have the capacity to implement them.”

About 62 million tonnes of waste is produced in urban centres every year, former environment minister Prakash Javadekar when releasing the rules last year. Of this, 5.6 million tonnes is plastic waste and 0.17million tonnes is biomedical waste. India also generated 1.5 million tonnes of electronic waste and 7.9 million tonnes of hazardous waste.

Government data shows that only 80% of waste gets collected and only between 22-28% of it is processed and treated. Waste generation in the country is likely to more than double by 2030.