India's cleanest cities are the "pilgrimages of the future", says Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu while giving away

CSE’s Clean City Awards to three cities – Alappuzha, Panaji and Mysuru

  • CSE’s book on solid waste management in Indian cities, Not in my backyard, released by Naidu yesterday

  • CSE has rated Indian cities on their management of solid waste; metros like Delhi feature at the bottom of the heap

  • India faces a mammoth problem: according to a report, in 2016, India produced 52 million tonne of waste a year – of which a mere 23 per cent was processed

  • The book is one of the first of its kind attempts in India to understand the state of solid waste management in the country, the numbers behind it, the gaps that exist and the path towards harnessing the opportunities 

New Delhi, July 12, 2016: India’s waste management story is tragic because despite having accepted that segregation of waste at source is an absolute must, we have rarely done it. For successful management of waste, therefore, segregation and reuse remain two critical elements: this emerged from a day-long conference on solid waste management in Indian cities, organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) here today.

Yesterday (July 11, 2016), CSE’s latest report on the subject -- titled Not in my backyard – was released in New Delhi by the Union urban development minister, M Venkaiah Naidu. Mr Naidu also conferred CSE’s Clean City Awards on three of the cleanest cities in India – Alappuzha (Kerala), Panaji (Goa) and Mysuru (Karnataka). The CSE report has been based on a rating of Indian cities done by the Centre for their solid waste management practices.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Naidu called these cities “the pilgrimages of the future”. While evincing a personal desire to visit these cities, he also stressed that “these cities should be promoted and emulated to make India garbage-free”. 

Presenting the CSE ratings of the city, the Centre’s director general Sunita Narain said: “This book started as a survey—we wanted to simply know which city is India’s cleanest. We knew that once we found out which is the cleanest, we would also find out what makes it so. This would give us the answers for future policy.”

Today’s conference was focused on sharing the best practices from across the country in solid waste management. Representatives from the cities rated by CSE, municipal authorities and regulators, media people and civil society functionaries came together to deliberate on the three key phrases of the workshop -- Reinvention, Opportunities and Way Ahead. Among the speakers were commissioners and former commissioners of the award winning cities, civil society members working on waste management, and administrative functionaries and regulators from cities like Surat and New Delhi and from agencies like the Suchitwa Mission of Kerala. 

The solid waste management scenario in India
The CSE report points out that in 2008, India produced 48 million tonne (MT) of solid waste as per one estimate; by 2016, this had gone up to 52 MT. A 2007 CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) report found waste was collected in 22 per cent of 56 municipalities that the report sampled. Segregation was done in only 10 per cent, storage in 17 per cent, transportation using covered trucks was done in 18 per cent of the sampled municipalities and only 11 per cent had waste processing capabilities. The report also found that only six municipalities had landfills—others were dumping in open sites.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), over 90 per cent of Indian cities with a functional collection system dispose of their waste in landfills. These landfills are not made according to stipulated sanitary standards. In 2008, CPCB’s monitoring of cities found that 24 out of 59 cities were making use of landfills, covering 1,900 hectares of land. Another 17 planned to create landfills. Since land was becoming scarce within city limits, municipalities were looking for “regional sites” to dump their waste.

The Department of Economic Affairs has projected that by 2047, India would be producing 260 MT of waste annually needing over 1,400 sq km of landfills. This is an area equal to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai put together.

Sunita Narain said: “What is absolutely clear to us as we researched for this report is that technology for waste disposal is not the problem. The problem is two-fold. One, households and institutions are not responsible for management, through segregation or payment of the waste they generate. Two, there is an absolute collapse of financial and institutional (human) capacity and so accountability in our municipal systems.”

Not in my backyard
From Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala, and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh, cities of every size and category are struggling with the problem of how to manage their waste, and one of the solutions that many have taken recourse to is to dump it wherever they can. But now, communities in whose neighborhoods these dumpyards have materialised, are up in arms – they are insistent that this waste cannot be dumped in their backyards.

CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan said: “As India becomes more literate and politically aware, most cities are encountering stiff resistance when they attempt to dispose of waste in somebody else’s backyard. In Pune, Bengaluru, Panaji, Alleppey and Gurgaon, village communities have been up in arms against the dumping of waste by a neighbouring city. This resistance will continue to grow. Cities are also finding it difficult to secure ‘environmental approval’ for their landfills.”

The way ahead
The CSE report points out that a combination of solutions is required to tackle the issue of waste management. Segregation at source, imposition of usage fees and penalties for non compliance and littering, restrictions on use of landfills and structuring of waste management contracts to ensure segregation happens at source, are some of the key components that can form part of the solution. It is also important that the informal sector be recognised for its role and made a key partner in the process in waste management.

“This is how waste management has evolved in the western world; so that they have no option but to manage to reuse, recycle and incinerate, but all in their own backyard. This is why India should be celebrating its own NIMBY. For long, we have used the backyards of our cities, where the poor of the city live, or villages,” added Sunita Narain.


Please go to the following link for pictures of the event click here

For any queries please contact: Hemanth Subramanian, Media Resource Centre, CSE; / 9836748585




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