Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Swachh Bharat Mission
Mains level: Examine India’s waste management crisis and suggest solutions
- The Swachh Bharat Mission plans to achieve safe sanitation for all by 2019
- There is also a well-defined process, for the different phases of the mission, across the sanitation value chain — build, use, maintain and treat (BUMT)
- So a national policy is in place; cities, state governments must operationalise it.
Waste Management problem
- Nationally, we generate 7 million tonnes of fecal waste every day but there no systems in place to safely dispose this waste
- It bears disease-carrying bacteria and pathogens posing a serious threat to safe and healthy living.
- The truck operators can be monitored through GPS tracking process in order to ensure that they dump the waste at treatment plants/pre-determined sites.
Solution – Fecal sludge management system (FSM)
- It involves collecting, transporting and treating fecal sludge and septage from pit latrines, septic tanks or other onsite sanitation systems.
- This waste is then treated at septage treatment plants.
- The FSM ecosystem requires its stakeholders to collaborate closely.
- Citizens need to be aware about the importance of a regular schedule for desludging septic tanks.
- They must also be ready to pay part of the cost of running FS treatment plants through service charges.
- Sanitation workers are key to an effective FSM system. But with no proper disposal system or safety regulations in place, they face serious health hazards.
- The sludge is nutrient-rich. After treatment, it can be given to farmers for use as organic compost.
- It can even be treated and used for biogas, or to manufacture fuel pellets or ethanol.
- Once pathogens and bacteria are removed, the water can be used for irrigation, construction, by industry in cooling plants etc
- With appropriate training, sanitation workers can be empowered to own and run FSM businesses — much like the producer cooperatives of the agriculture sector.