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Govt seeks tech solutions for waste management


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Waste to wealth concept

Mains level: Rising domestic as well as industrial waste in India and problems associated with it


Concept note in waste management technologies

  1. The science and technology ministry has called for a concept note in waste management technologies by 31 January from interested academic institutes and research & development (R&D) organizations
  2. The government is seeking technological solutions for managing the huge untreated waste across the country
  3. The waste is not only leading to poor sanitary conditions but also damaging the environment

What is government seeking?

  1. The government is looking at organizations to participate in developing technologies for biomedical waste and for setting up a demo plant for hazardous waste in an institute or university
  2. It is also looking at technologies to address agricultural waste (stubble management) to find an alternative to crop burning
  3. The move is part of government’s concept of ‘waste to wealth
  4. Electronic waste is another focus area as the government is looking at developing “simple indigenous material recovery technology for specific applications (precious and other metals, plastics, glass and rare earths) in collaboration with industry
  5. Besides these, other major areas that are on the government’s radar are urban and rural solid waste and industrial waste

Problem of waste management

  1. Around 62 million tonnes (mt) of solid waste is generated in India every year but only 43 mt is collected and a mere 12 mt treated
  2. About 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day but of that, only 9,000 tonnes is collected and processed
  3. India generates 1.7 million tonnes of e-waste annually, which is rising at the rate of 5% a year

Bali declares ‘garbage emergency’ amid sea of waste

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Clean seas campaign, Global Partnership on Marine Litter

Mains level: Harmful effects of plastic waste on marine life and ways to reduce it


World’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris

  1. A colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually by Indonesia
  2. The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is the world’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris after China

Garbage emergency

  1. The waves of plastic flooding into rivers and oceans have been causing problems for years
  2. It has been clogging waterways in cities, increasing the risk of floods, and injuring or killing marine animals who ingest or become trapped by plastic packaging
  3. Microplastics can contaminate fish which, if eaten by humans, could cause health problems including cancer
  4. The problem has grown so bad that officials in Bali last month declared a “garbage emergency” across a six-kilometer stretch of coast

Clean Seas campaign

  1. Indonesia is one of nearly 40 countries that are part of UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign
  2. As part of its commitment, the Indonesian government has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 % by 2025


UNEP Clean Seas Campaign

  1. The campaign aims to halt the tide of plastic trash polluting the oceans
  2. UN Environment launched #CleanSeas in February 2017, with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter
  3. Over the next five years, UNEP will address the root-cause of marine litter by targeting the production and consumption of non-recoverable and single-use plastic
  4. The campaign contributes to the goals of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, a voluntary open-ended partnership for international agencies, governments, businesses, academia, local authorities and non-governmental organizations hosted by UN Environment


[pib] Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities Introduced


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Star rating protocol for garbage free cities

Mains level: Urbanisation challenges


  • A guide Book for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on Bulk Solid Waste Generator’s Compliance of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, and the online database for states and cities, both pertaining to SBM Urban was launched
  • The guidebook lays out the roles and responsibilities of bulk waste generators and will handhold ULBs in implementing the SWM Rules,
  • While the online database will henceforth capture data directly from states and cities online, regarding their progress on SBM components, thereby enhancing the robustness and transparency of Mission monitoring.
  • The star rating protocol is different from the Swachh Survekshan ranking survey in that it will allow multiple cities to be awarded the same star rating, and is expected to be formally introduced by the Ministry in the next few weeks.

Major takeaways:

  • In order to enthuse cities with a spirit of healthy competition, the concept of a star rating protocol for garbage free cities was introduced during the workshop.
  • Given its potential as a developmental cum aspirational tool for cities to incrementally improve their overall cleanliness, while working towards a garbage-free status, this is expected to greatly enthuse the city administrators.
  • The focus on the issue of cleanliness of community and public toilets, there is a concerted drive to seek user feedback for CT/PTs through the Google toilet locator and Swachhata app.
  • Uploading all community / public toilets in cities on Google maps under the Business listing category, integrating with Swachhata app

National wastewater reuse policy sought- II

  1. Source: The report ‘Closing the water loop: Reuse of treated wastewater in urban India’- by the global consulting firm PwC
  2. Ground water: Regulatory intervention is key to prevent industries from over-exploiting groundwater
  3. The current low cost of exploiting groundwater makes reuse unviable and at the same time, irrecoverably depletes groundwater resources
  4. Norms: The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water Resources should work together to define quality norms for different grades of industrial water
  5. This would help standardise the design of reuse systems nationwide
  6. Historically, infrastructure development in the water sector has been fully funded by the Central Government
  7. For PPP (public-private partnership) structures to evolve in this sector, significant Govt interventions are required to create a favourable environment for private sector participation

National wastewater reuse policy sought- I

  1. Source: The report ‘Closing the water loop: Reuse of treated wastewater in urban India’- by the global consulting firm PwC
  2. Why policy? To help address the perennial concern of urban water stress by mandating targets and laying out legislative, regulatory and financial measures to hit those targets
  3. Urban growth: Country is expected to add approximately 404 million new urban dwellers between now and 2050
  4. This rapid urban growth will be linked with higher industrial output and greater energy demand thus adding to the urban water stress
  5. Institutionalising the reuse of treated wastewater could go a long way in helping utilities to address this challenge in an effective manner

Discuss: With rapid urbanisation, municipal solid waste and waste water is increasingly generated. What could be done to tackle this mess in present context so as to balance urbanisation with the environment?

Govt. notifies new rules on waste management

  1. News: The Environment Ministry has notified rules to ensure that the solid waste generated by some groups are treated and recycled
  2. Municipal bodies will be allowed to charge user fees and levy spot fines for littering and non-segregation
  3. There is a key provision is to formalise the profession of rag-picking, who form a critical arm of society
  4. Groups: Hotels, residential colonies, bulk producers of consumer goods, ports, railway stations, airports and pilgrimage spots
  5. Significance: The rules on solid waste management have been amended after 16 years
  6. Criticism: There is no binding provision on fines

Rules to manage construction & demolition waste

  1. Context: Govt notified The Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016
  2. Also include barring people from dumping such waste on roadsides and mandatory recycling
  3. Rules stipulate that building permits will be given only after a waste management plan is provided to authorities
  4. Aim: Reducing dust pollution that is linked to a spurt in respiratory diseases in big cities

New plastic waste management rules

  1. Context: The Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules 2016, issued by the Union environment ministry
  2. Highlights: They bring the country’s gram panchayats into the picture
  3. It introduced the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR)
  4. Under the new ERP concept, producers are responsible for collecting waste generated from their products
  5. It also banned plastic carry bags thinner than 50 microns

Centre makes it mandatory for power firms to buy from solid waste plants

  1. Context: Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Mission
  2. Background: About 1.68 lakh tonnes of solid waste is collected across the country
  3. What’s in the news? – It is mandatory for power distribution companies to buy electricity from power plants fuelled by solid waste
  4. Why? – Power discoms were not willing to buy electricity from solid waste-run power plants
  5. Objective: To generate 700 megawatts of electricity from solid waste-run plants in the next 5 years

Swachh Bharat: plan to produce power, compost from solid waste

The Urban Development Ministry is planning to generate electricity and compost from municipal solid waste.


  1. A proposal will be introduced before Cabinet to provide Market Development Assistance on sale of city compost to farmers.
  2. Ministry of Power will amend the Electricity Act 2003 to enable mandatory purchase of power generated from municipal solid waste.
  3. The Power Ministry was finalising a tariff rate that would help “waste to energy projects” sustain in the market.
  4. The Ministry is also finalising the pricing model for the compost produced out of city trash, and it would be sold to farmers on subsidised rates.

Delhi reels under 15,000 tonnes of waste

  1. Why? because  12,000 sanitation workers are refusing to work without getting their salaries.
  2. The Municipal corporations have the power to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act and force the sanitation staff to resume work but that’s far from their mind.
  3. Typhoid, jaundice and skin allergies are some of the most common health problems that can occur.
  4. Post-trifurcation of Delhi, the corporations, mainly East and North, have been struggling to streamline basic services like sanitation.

Questions (attempt in the comments section)


Discuss India’s limitations of urban solid waste management policy and suggest how it can overcome these limitations, especially keeping in mind consumers’ interest.


Critically discuss the various challenges and issues arising out of waste management in Indian towns and cities


Inefficient waste management has become a norm in most Indian cities. What are the practical measures that can help mobilize citizens to participate in cleanliness drive? Discuss.

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