Swachh Bharat Mission

India’s city compost policy needs overhauling

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance| Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SBA, Policy on Promotion of City Compost

Mains level: Solid Waste Management in India


News

Background

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission had committed to ensuring that all organic waste produced in Indian cities is processed into making compost by October 2019.
  • However it doesn’t seem likely, currently, not even 5 per cent of organic waste generated by cities is converted into compost.

Policy on Promotion of City Compost

  1. To meet the ambitious target, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers had announced a Policy on Promotion of City Compost in February 2016.
  2. It aimed to promote city compost with punch line ‘Compost Banao, Compost Apnao’.
  3. But the lack of an appropriate market and ineffective implementation didn’t give this much-needed practice the desired popularity.

Potential for city compost

  1. India currently produces close to 1.5 lakh tonnes of solid waste every day and its biodegradable fraction ranges between 30 per cent and 70 per cent for various Indian cities.
  2. This means there is a huge potential for compositing, the most natural form of processing wet waste.
  3. Uncontrolled decomposition of organic waste in dumpsites also leads to emission of potent greenhouse gases.
  4. So, it is imperative that necessary actions be taken to promote appropriate disposal mechanisms for solid waste management.

Policy Paralysis

  1. The policy on promotion of city compost was rolled out to facilitate its marketing through fixed MDA of Rs 1,500.
  2. This subsidy was to reduce the selling price of compost for farmers.
  3. It required agreements amongst municipal body, compost manufacturer and compost marketer, including fertiliser companies.
  4. But, unlike the predictions that the new financial incentives will boost promotion and production of compost, it did not prove to be a game-changer.
  5. The high manufacturing and selling cost of the compost, questionable product quality, no direct incentive/subsidy to farmers and lack of knowledge among other concerns, ensured city compost didn’t become a popular option for farmers.

Other Bottlenecks

  1. The money allocated for MDA subsidy in the last three years is so meager that it could not meet the requirement of even 2 per cent of the SBM’s target.
  2. In addition, the process to claim MDA is so tedious that most manufacturers and fertiliser companies have not received any payment under it.
  3. A firm producing chemical fertilizers and its dealers are unlikely to be enthusiastic about selling organic compost till there is a legal mandate. The current policy has subsidy but no legal targets.
  4. They are just “supposed to” co-market fertilisers with city compost in a way that there are 6-7 bags of urea and 1-2 bags of city compost.

Way Forward

  1. To create a demand for quality compost, it is necessary to ensure that robust waste management systems are developed in cities, with source-segregation and promotion of decentralized waste management at its heart.
  2. We need a much more serious policy to scale up production and consumption of city compost.
  3. It should support other factors such as by reforms in terms of fertilizer control order norms, stringent targets for fertilizer companies etc.
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