Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

On Delhi’s mounting Waste Crisis | Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Local Governance; Delhi Pollution;

Mains level: Delhi Pollution and Local Governance; Solid Waste Management;

Why in the News? 

On May 13, the Supreme Court stated that addressing the “horrible” issue of 3,800 metric tonnes of untreated Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) accumulating daily in the national capital requires moving beyond party politics.

What is the status of Delhi’s SWM system?

  • Population Growth and Waste Generation:
    • According to the 2011 Census Data, New Delhi’s population was approximately 1.7 crore. However, this Population is expected to increase to around 2.32 crore.
    • This increase will lead to a significant rise in waste generation, estimated at approximately 13,000 tonnes per day (TPD), which equates to roughly 1,400 truckloads daily.
    • Presently, this daily waste generation accumulates to about 42 lakh tonnes per annum. The population is anticipated to reach 2.85 crore by 2031 due to which the waste generation could increase to 17,000 TPD.
  • Waste Collection: Around 90% of the waste generated in the city is collected by three municipal corporations:
  • Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)
  • Delhi Cantonment Board
  • New Delhi Municipal Corporation
  • Waste Composition is of major types – Biodegradable Wet Waste (50-55%), Non-Biodegradable Dry Waste (around 35%), and Inert Waste (10% that does not decompose). The total collective capacity of these facilities is about 9,200 tonnes per day (TPD).

Issue of Unprocessed Waste Disposal: 

  • The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is disposing of 3,800 TPD of unprocessed waste in landfills.
  • Designated Landfills (Gazipur, Bhalswa, and Okhla) are filled with unprocessed wet and dry waste, leading to significant environmental issues such as methane gas emissions, leachate production, and landfill fires.
  • The landfills have accumulated a total of 2.58 crore tonnes of legacy waste, covering 200 acres of land.

What are the challenges faced by MCD?

  • Lack of Waste Segregation at Source: Many households and commercial establishments do not segregate waste. Unprocessed mixed waste enters landfills as a result.
  • Land Availability for Waste Processing Plants: Waste processing plants require large land parcels (30-40 acres each). Securing such large tracts of land is challenging in Delhi.
  • Public Awareness and Practices: There is a lack of public awareness regarding proper waste management practices. This leads to littering and improper disposal habits. MCD’s focus shifts to clearing open points rather than processing wet waste.
  • Inadequate Waste Collection Services: Some areas suffer from irregular waste collection services. This contributes to waste buildup and increased littering.
  • Illegal Dumping: Waste is often illegally dumped in open areas and water bodies. This increases the pressure on the MCD and requires additional resources for cleanup.

What efforts need to be made by MCD?

  • Need for a Decentralized Approach: Given the challenges of identifying large land parcels, Delhi will need to partner with its neighboring States to set up a few of these composting plants.
    • Additionally, the market for organic compost produced from wet waste lies in the neighboring States of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Need to work on Biodegradable Wet Waste: The design capacity for wet waste processing should be 9,000 TPD. This would require at least 18 composting or biogas plants (assuming each plant has a capacity of 500 TPD).
    • Significant efforts will be needed to identify land, establish composting facilities, and ensure their proper operation to prevent biodegradable waste from reaching landfills.
  • Need to work on Non-Biodegradable Dry Waste: Approximately 2% of dry waste is recyclable and should be sent to recycling facilities. The remaining 33% of non-recyclable dry waste (plastics, paper, textile waste) can be used as RDF for power generation in waste-to-energy projects.
  • Coordination Among Stakeholders: Improved coordination between various Municipal Corporations to streamline waste collection and segregation processes by collaborating with private companies and non-governmental organizations is needed to enhance waste segregation and processing efforts.

Conclusion: Already, Biomining Initiative was launched in 2019 by the MCD to reduce the amount of waste. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted these efforts. Originally planned for completion by 2024, now expected to take an additional two to three years.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What are the impediments in disposing the huge quantities of discarded solid wastes which are continuously being generated? How do we remove safely the toxic wastes that have been accumulating in our habitable environment? (UPSC IAS/2018)

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