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Swachh Survekshan 2017 encouraging unsustainable approaches for waste management: CSE (downtoearth, )

An analysis done by CSE on the results of the Swachh Survekshan, 2017 shows that the top 3 cities in the survey – Indore, Bhopal and Vishakhapatnam – have adopted environmentally unsustainable practices for waste management. The cities are focussing on collection of unsegregated waste and transporting it to landfills, with a very minimal quantum of waste being processed. All three cities are dumping unsegregated waste. These cities are, therefore, not meeting the statutory requirements of the Municipal Solid Waste Rules (MSW Rules), 2016.

The MSW Rules, 2016 clearly state that waste needs to be segregated into three categories at the household level – wet, dry and domestic hazardous waste. Further the Rules stipulate that waste to energy plants shall not burn mixed waste. The Rules also put disposal at landfills as the least preferred option.

What becomes clear is that the states that have pushed for a centralised approach towards waste management – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh – have been given high rankings in the Survekshan results. Of the top 50 cities, 31 cities are in these three states. All these cities are pushing for cluster based waste management approach using waste to energy plants and landfills for processing and dumping of waste.
In contrast, cities that are working towards household-level segregation and decentralised recycling and reuse of waste have been given very poor ranking. Alappuzha (Kerala), which has a decentralised model for waste management, ranks 380th. Panjim city, which has adopted five point segregation, ranks 90th.

"Both Alappuzha and Panjim have no landfill sites or waste-to-energy incineration plants. Most of their waste is converted into compost or biogas. Inorganic wastes like plastic, glass, metals and papers  are sent for recycling. These cities make money from solid wastes rather than spending crores in collecting and transporting wastes to landfills. Still, Swachh Survekshan 2017 has not given any recognition to these cities,” says Swati Sambyal, Programme Manager, Waste Management team.

“Solid Waste Management should move towards behaviour change and local solutions, it is only then that we can achieve the goal of a Clean India”

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CSE’s analysis shows that Indore, which has been ranked first, is right now struggling to manage its waste. Similarly, Surat which is ranked 4th in the Sarvekshan results, is dumping 1600 Metric Tonnes per Day (MTD) of its unsegregated garbage in a landfill, that too, without processing.

“The methodology of Survekshan needs a serious relook as it is rewarding cities with environmentally unsustainable practices and discouraging cities that are working towards behaviour change and local solutions,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE.  

Next year, the ambit of Survekshan shall increase to 4041 statutory towns and cities of the country. The methodology of assessment needs to put in place more points for segregation and decentralised treatment. "Solid Waste Management should move towards behaviour change and local solutions. Only then we can achieve the goal of a Clean India," says Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE.

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