Indian population is rapidly migrating towards urban areas in search of better job facilities. This trend not only increases the stress on the resources of urban areas but also makes waste disposal a big problem.
Today, only some percentage of waste is collected; some percentage of that collected waste is treated and the rest is dumped in landfill sites. We do not have an adequate number of systems to treat the waste in an environmentally conducive manner. Even while dumping, bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable wastes are not segregated properly.
There are alarming consequences of dumping e-wastes like the erosion of top soil, land turning barren, contamination of ground water and more. The situation calls for an immediate government intervention. This year’s Swachha Sarvekshan awarded the cleanliest city award to Indore and made Bhopal the first runner-up. Both of these cities dump waste in the outskirts of the city. However, few cities of the Southern part of India which treat the wastes properly have been dragged to low ranks in the index. For instance, instance, Alappuzha in Kerala is ranked 380 despite adopting a decentralised model of waste management and Panjim in Goa is ranked 90 despite adopting a five-point segregation policy.
The Smart City plan has also not given due prominence to the management of waste the way it has given to infrastructure and development. At a time when the government must ensure the availability of proper infrastructure to treat wastes in an environmentally friendly manner, the government is looking for more landfills when even the existing ones are flawed.
This has been an impediment to the success of Namami Ganage plan as well. More than 3,000 million litres of waste water enter Ganga every day while we have mechanisms to treat only 1,000 million litres of waste water.
Disposal of e-wastes has added to the already existing misery. All the metro cities in India like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, and Kolkata are major generators of e-wastes. E-wastes pose a big threat to the health of the people as well as direct contact with harmful materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants may lead to incurable ails.
India suffers from both inefficient waste management infrastructure and increasing rates of solid waste generation per capita due to economic growth. This increases the concern for the government as well as the people. Indian law, unlike many other countries, does not charge for waste management. This makes the financial burden incident on urban local bodies.
A way out could be better infrastructure development by the government. Penalizing people for littering will also help in this case. However, we must remember that the onus is not just on the government but on us too. So, please don’t litter around and ‘keep your city clean’. Just like charity, cleanliness also begins at home.