Waste management: Push the 4R principle
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched two flagship schemes: The Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) 2.0 and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) 2.0. The mission-mode programmes aim to make India’s burgeoning cities garbage-free, put much-needed sewage and safety management systems in place, and ensure that dirty drains don’t empty into rivers. The outlay for SBM-U 2.0 is around ₹1.41 lakh crore. The AMRUT mission will focus on providing 100% coverage of water supply to households in 4,700 urban local bodies (ULBs) by providing about 26.8 million tap connections and 100% coverage of sewerage and septage (faecal sludge) in 500 AMRUT cities by providing around 26.4 million sewer connections. The outlay of AMRUT 2.0 is around ₹2.87 lakh crore.
Both programmes are vital for India’s cities. Take, for example, solid waste management. ULBs are responsible for keeping cities clean. However, most lack infrastructure and face poor institutional capacity, financial constraints, and a lack of political will, says an Observer Research Foundation report. Moreover, India has exhausted all landfill sites, and ULBs do not have the resources to acquire new land. According to 2020 data, 147,613 metric tonnes of solid waste is generated per day, from 84,475 wards. While significant investment is necessary in collecting and transporting solid waste, as SBM 2.0 promises to do, it is important that the government and civil society push the concept of refuse-reduce-reuse-recycle much harder. This is not a new concept for India; it needs to be refreshed and popularised among citizens for a sustainable and waste-free future.