Guwahati, Thursday, November 8, 2018
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Municipal solid waste management in urban areas
Romen Kalita
 URBAN PLANNING, development and management have assumed global attention especially among the developing nations. It has great significance for a country like India where migration of people from rural to urban areas takes place in large-scale. The present strategy of development in India mainly stresses better livelihood opportunities, provision for basic amenities and infrastructure facilities through innovative development programmes and its management. Development always aims at improving people’s livelihoods in a sustainable manner, both socially and environmentally, through better access to assets (natural, physical, human, technological, etc.) and control over productive capital (in its financial or economic and political forms) that enable them to improve people’s livelihoods on a sustainable and equitable basis.

 The changing urban consumption patterns in view of economic development have resulted in an increase in the waste generation and it is estimated that about 11,5000MT of solid wastes are generated daily in India. According to an assessment, the per capita waste generation is increasing by 1.3% per year and with the growing urban population, the annual increase in the waste generation is estimated at about 5%, according to The Solid Waste Management Sector in India, 2009. Moreover, lack of proper drainage system is another area of concern in urban areas of the country. It creates the problem of waterlogging and artificial flood in most of the urban centres of not only Assam but also across the country, especially in the metro cities. In Assam, the problem gets very critical in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and some other smaller towns.

Paper, plastics, vegetables and food scraps contribute above 50% of solid waste, while glass, ferrous metals, wood, textiles, aluminium and garden wastes contribute less than 50% of solid waste in urban areas.

None of the cities and towns in Assam have appropriate infrastructure for sewage treatment and this is a key issue for the sustainability of water resources on which the urban areas are dependent. Some of the municipalities are often not aware of the ways and means to dispose of solid waste that are generated on a daily basis. The non-availability of suitable land for solid waste disposal in an environment-friendly manner is also commonly seen in some cities. In many towns, no land is earmarked for the disposal of solid waste or no other techniques are used for scientific disposal of waste.

People are aware of the ill effects of solid waste being littered in towns but the issue is yet to be addressed seriously.

There is also a need for public awareness campaigns in this regard at regular intervals. Local bodies also lack funds that are required to dispose of solid waste in a scientific manner. Most of the local bodies are dependent on their own staff for handling of solid waste. On most occasions, it is seen that local bodies do not have any waste management plans for their towns or cities.

The public private participation (PPP) projects can be implemented for solid waste management. It revolves around the integration of various aspects of municipal solid waste management including collection, transportation, processing and disposal of waste in urban areas. All these activities shall be carried out by a single entity resulting in optimisation of resources in line with the waste management hierarchy. Door-to-door collection method can also be implemented.

Building of pucca dustbins in towns within every one kilometre is essential so that municipal solid waste can be collected very easily. After collection, the solid waste is to be transported in covered vehicles to the processing and disposal site. It can be processed for energy recovery before final disposal into a landfill site. For example, mixed municipal solid waste can be converted into refuse derived fuel (RDF) in the RDF plant. Similarly, organic components of municipal solid waste can be segregated during the RDF process and treated in the compost plant to produce manure. It can also be used in power plant.

To actualise these benefits, a systematic and effective policy of public private initiative needs to be introduced as these projects require huge investment and technological application. PPP can help in the efficient management of available fund in an optimum way. Problem of land can be solved with the corporate effort. Collection and processing of municipal solid waste are the best ways to solve the problem of pollution. Moreover, it will help solve the problem of waterlogging and minimise spread of disease from such sources.

Processing of minimum solid waste can be used in a better way for green power generation. Municipal authorities and town committees need to take the matter of solid waste management in consideration while giving permission to construction of buildings. The development initiatives need to be implemented in a holistic way. It is expected that the authorities concerned will apply scientific methods to solve the problems of solid waste and waterlogging through better drainage system in the coming days.

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