7 PM Editorial |Technology- based waste management framework for Swachh India|29th August 2020

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Technology-based waste management framework for Swachh India

Introduction:

Unplanned and inadequate waste management in India has led to mountains of garbage in landfills. In addition, this waste contaminates groundwater and water bodies(drains, rivers and oceans)

Current status of waste management in India:
  • Only 20-25% treatment and rest being dumped in landfills, drains, water bodies(lakes, rivers and oceans). This makes our rivers one of the most polluted in the world.
    • Deonar dumpsite in Mumbai, Ghaziabad landfill are examples of mounting waste piles
    • NITI Aayog report says 70% of Indian rivers are severely polluted
  • 48 landfills covering 5000 acres of prime land worth about 1 lakh crore. They are inadequate leading to dumping in drains, water bodies.
  • 92 waste to energy(WTE) plants but only few are functional at low capacity. They are grossly inadequate
    • In Mumbai, 600 MT(metric ton) WTE plant is present as against waste generation of 7500 MT per day.

By 2050, waste generation is projected to be doubled. This shows that there is an urgent need for a waste management mission at the national level.

Solutions for effective waste management in India:
  • Indigenization to technologies: Technologies adapted to Indian conditions must be made affordable to municipalities. Indian waste has a high amount of organic waste, pan masala, plastic sachets(shampoo, lays packets etc). These must be incorporated into providing solutions suited for India
    • Amphibian equipment to clean water bodies modified for smaller drains and water bodies
    • Robotic long hand scavenging machines for drains
    • Booms to prevent waste entry into water bodies and drains
  • Ease of procurement of technologies by municipalities by amending rigid rules. Currently, procurement is time-consuming and leads to cost overruns.
  • Policy incentives: Landfills cleanup results in unlocking commercial value of land underneath. Incentives in the form of land ownership, long rent-free leases must be provided.
    • This leads to socioeconomic benefits of less pollution of air, water and land as well as reduced diseases in the areas of landfills
  • Skill training for adoption of full mechanization in collection, transport, operation and maintenance of waste treatment plants.
  • Behavioural change campaigns: To inculcate zero waste attitudes among people. Traditionally India had followed 3R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This must be focused on.
Conclusion:

A comprehensive framework with the design of collection, treatment and technology must be adopted to tackle the waste challenge. This must be part of local-level planning of municipalities and panchayats. Only then can India achieve swachh bharat, swasth bharat and Unnat bharat.

Source: Hindustan Times

Mains question:
  1. Increasing solid waste is a grave threat to biodiversity and leads to poverty. Discuss? How can India tackle the increasing menace of solid waste? [15 marks, 250 words]
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