Waste management a responsibility of citizens, says expert

A sustainable waste management system can be evolved only through public participation, a total change in attitude and policy clarity, says P.K. Raveendran, a retired professor of chemistry and chairman of Maharaja’s College governing council who has worked extensively on waste management. He was also private secretary to former Minister for Local Administration Paloli Mohammed Kutty.

Speaking on the failure of the Kochi Corporation to properly handle waste generated within its jurisdiction despite more than two decades of efforts, he said that the corporation authorities appeared to promote an attitude that people were not responsible for the waste generated in their households.

“Just as polluter pays, my waste is my responsibility,” said Mr. Raveendran emphasising that people must involve themselves in waste segregation, proper disposal at the source and decentralised management.

Lack of clarity

He was speaking at an online conference on Monday on decentralised waste management. He said that there was a lack of clarity on the part of the government on waste management policy. The government often appeared confused over whether to adopt a centralised or decentralised system.

The government has now come out with an announcement favouring decentralised waste management. But he pointed out that the Kochi Corporation had, about five years ago, favoured a centralised system with a proposal for a waste-to-energy plant. “Such a centralised system cannot work without the residents of the corporation involving themselves in the process. Segregation at source is a must if such a system has to succeed,” he said.

The extremely wet climate in the State is a major factor that has to be considered. “While States like Tamil Nadu and those in North India may adopt one model, Kerala may not be able to succeed with those models,” he said.

Citizen’s role

The government and local bodies must help create a situation in which citizens are responsible for the waste they generate. They should even be ready to take waste to a local or decentralised processing facility.

The success of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is an example for the Kochi Corporation to emulate, he said. According to a study by the Green Tribunal, 47% of the divisions in the State capital had succeeded in sustainably managing waste in a decentralised manner, he said.

Instead of waiting for the entire corporation to adopt decentralised waste management, those areas and divisions where people have taken initiatives to handle waste they generate must start working in that manner so that the culture will gradually spread, he added.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 3:42:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/waste-management-a-responsibility-of-citizens-says-expert/article32615318.ece

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