15 January, 2021

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Focussing on citizens’ behaviour and ­segregation at source brings results

Waste management through biomediation in Ghazipur
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Keep It Simple, Stupid

India doesn’t know how to manage its waste. The solid waste management (SWM) rules notified in 2016 clearly spell out how best to segregate and manage urban solid waste at the source to ensure minimum dumping in landfills. But hardly any municipalities have bothered to enforce these rules, and the urban waste crisis in many cities has reached “explosive” dimensions. “The simple task of enforcing segregation of waste at the source, a standard practice in much of Europe, has become a very complex problem in India. There is a need to transform social behaviour towards waste. There is also a need to push civic and regulatory systems out of their inertia. Or we will only burden future generations with the toxic impacts of our waste,” says Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group.

India produces over 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of waste daily, one of the highest in the world. Waste generation per capita varies from 170 grams per person per day in small towns to 600 grams in cities. A parliamentary committee observed in 2016 that out of all municipal...



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