Fixing the Capital’s garbage problem
For the fifth year in a row, Indore was adjudged the cleanest city in the one million-plus population category by Swachh Survekshan 2021, the Centre’s survey on cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation. For the national Capital’s urban local bodies, the results were mixed. While the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) topped in the category of cities with 0.1 million to one million population, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (MCD) ranked 45 of 48 cities in the category with a population over one million. East MCD is ranked at 40. South MCD is at 31. NDMC’s ranking is not surprising because it is cash-rich, better staffed (it is in charge of VIP areas), and waste generation in the area under its purview is much lower than in the other three.
The survey results prove the MCDs have not been able to put in place an effective plan to segregate waste at source. Their capacity for waste disposal is also poor. Delhi generates 12,350 tonnes of solid waste daily and this is expected to rise to 18,915 tonnes by 2041. Of the total waste generated, only 85% is collected by the municipal corporations and 55% ends up in landfills. The North and East MCDs set a November 1 deadline after which segregated waste would be collected from homes, but implementation has been poor.
Much of Delhi’s garbage issue depends on waste segregation at source. And so, corporations must invest in programmes to ensure that citizens understand the value of segregation at source. The draft Master Plan of Delhi 2041 rules out new landfill sites and wants minimum waste localities to be developed. The MCDs must learn from Indore. It has eliminated garbage dumps, ensured 100% household waste segregation, and turned waste into products.