Waste segregation at source is the key

Implementation of law can be achieved if residents and authorities work in tandem

Published - June 18, 2019 01:35 am IST

The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, states it is the responsibility of generators to segregate waste into three categories — wet, dry and hazardous waste — and hand over the segregated waste to authorised waste collectors or local bodies.

Wet waste is biodegradable; dry waste includes plastic, paper, metal, wood among others; and domestic hazardous waste includes napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc. This was reiterated in Delhi’s Solid Waste Management By-Laws notified in January 2018. However, a majority of Delhi is yet to implement segregation of waste at source, be it households, hotels, restaurants or other waste generators.

The Supreme Court had last year, while hearing a case initiated by it to curb dengue deaths in the city, opined that “the problem of solid waste management in Delhi will certainly require the active cooperation and assistance of the residents considering the fact that their position is very critical”. It had then ordered setting up of an expert panel to go “in-depth into all aspects of solid waste management”.

The committee, which submitted its report to the top court in January this year, stated that three of the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) — East Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and North Delhi Municipal Corporation — had “negligible” segregation at source.

At the time of submission, the report said that the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Delhi Cantonment Board had 70% and 50% segregation respectively. In the report, the East civic body said it was aiming to achieve 80% segregation by September 2020, while the South and North bodies said they would aim to achieve 80% segregation by September 2021.

The committee recognised that segregation of municipal solid waste involved major behavioural changes both in the public and within the ULBs. It suggested that all Residents’ Welfare Associations registered under the Societies Registration Act, cooperative societies registered with the Registrar of Cooperative Societies/Delhi Development Authority and with government bodies be considered for the purpose of engagement with the ULBs.

To speed up the implementation, the ULBs have said they would make use of WhatsApp groups and social media to reward good practices and success stories in segregation.

Home composting

The report also said that the NDMC, with the help of residents and NGOs in the area, is promoting home composting from the segregated biodegradable waste and utilising the same either in the house or its vicinity.

Currently, about 550 houses have started doing home composting by installing home composters, which cost ₹500 and are easily operable. This year, the NDMC has targeted 3,000 houses, the committee said, adding that other ULBs should promote the same.

The committee said that all the ULBs have been asked to locate parks owned by DDA and also CPWD/PWD residential colonies and initiate an exercise to promote neighbourhood composting by using segregated biodegradable waste in such parks through decentralised processing.

The committee stated that the best way to minimise dumping of waste at landfill sites is by formulating a plan of action through RWAs/market associations, involvement of informal sector, constitution of Safai Nigrani Samitis to monitor progress and media campaigns, among others.

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