State rolls out solid waste policy

For the first time, the State government has notified a solid waste management policy and strategy, to deal with what has posed a formidable challenge to local bodies.

By implementing the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, which is mandatory for all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the country, the State aspires to have an integrated SWM system that is sustainable and makes cities livable.

As a result, the local bodies will soon start insisting on no litter, source segregation of waste using a minimum of two bins and its disposal at a designated place. The waste generators will have to pay service fee or user charges and taxes, as prescribed by the local body for SWM services.

Charging of user fee

“Soon, the local bodies will start collecting a small user fee like Rs. 10, Rs. 15 or Rs. 20 from every household as user fee,” said an official, who was part of the team that drafted the policy.

According to the policy, at least the full operation and maintenance cost may be recovered from beneficiaries through user fees, over a reasonable period of three to five years.

Different rates may be prescribed for various categories of households, institutions and commercial establishments, depending on the quantity and type of waste generated and their capacity to pay.

The element of cross subsidisation may be introduced for providing the services to the poor at a low cost.

SWM tax may be levied to cover the capital costs to the extent possible, the policy stated.

“At present, the ULBs collect user fees as part of the property tax. But that is not enough, as the local bodies are struggling financially. Scientific waste management requires investments,” said a Municipal Administration Department official. The ULBs should ensure social inclusiveness, covering all sections, with special focus on the poor and disadvantaged. Open dumping and open burning practices should be immediately stopped.

In areas where ULBs are currently not providing or inadequately providing SWM services, resident welfare associations, community-based organisations, and private sector participation should be encouraged by local bodies and State agencies to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness of SWM services.

Municipal authorities in the State, while passing orders on any building plan for residential or commercial complex, should clearly earmark an easily accessible location, where the municipal solid waste generated from the complex can be safely stored for collection and transportation by the municipal authorities or any of its agencies, the policy stated.

Storage space

The minimum storage space should be 15 litres per dwelling unit or 1 cubic metre up to 10,000 square feet commercial spaces.

The Municipal authorities should also insist on in situ SWM in gated communities and zero waste generation.

ULBs should endeavour to minimise waste by promoting the 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recover and Recycle). They should also extend producers’ liability and restrict the proportion of waste going to landfills to below 20% of the total waste generated in their jurisdiction. Further, at least 10% of waste must be reduced from going to landfills each year, the policy insisted.

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