India is all set to see garbage-free cities
Thanks to the Swachh Bharat Mission, there is a greater degree of cleanliness in the country
One has to keep in mind the fact that the more the waste, the more you have to manage the waste. Do we want our cities to look pretty and clean or are we thinking about how efficiently we manage our waste? Zero-waste communities will mean communities taking care of their waste – whether it's through composting locally or selling the recyclables to scrap dealers
The mountains of garbage at Ghazipur and Burarai in national capital Delhi and also in some place in the financial capital of the country, Mumbai are both scary and give very poor impression about the country that has the fifth largest economy in the world. India must get rid of such mountain that stinks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U 2.0) Mission October 1, 2021, to make all cities in India 'garbage free.' The very ambitious SBM-U 2.0, with an outlay of Rs. 1.41 lakh crore, aims to make Indian cities 'garbage free' and all urban local bodies (ULBs) open defecation free.
Well, the very heartening development is that several municipal corporations with the support of local people have done long strides in order to make themselves as garbage free. Interestingly, the government has also declared India's top garbage-free cities, also revealing names of the 5-star garbage-free cities, with six cities getting this honour. 141 cities were rated in total, 65 of them got a 3-star rating, while 70 cities got 1-star rating.
According to Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, cities that got the 5-star rating are Mysuru, Ambikapur, Rajkot, Surat, Navi Mumbai, and Indore. New Delhi got a 3-star garbage-free rating, alongside Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Jamshedpur, Tirupati, Karnal, Bhilai Nagar, and Vijayawada. The cities got the rating after some 25 parameters were taken into consideration.
Cities that were rated 1-star in the survey are Delhi Cantonment; Haryana's Rohtak; Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior, Maheshwar, Khandwa, Badnawar, and Hathod; and Gujarat's Vadodara, Bhavnagar, and Vyara.
What is a garbage-free city?
As per Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, cities achieve 'Garbage Free' status when- at any point of time in the day no garbage or litter is found in any public, commercial or residential locations (including storm drains and water bodies) in the city (except in litter bins or transfer stations); 100 per cent of waste generated is scientifically managed; all legacy waste has been remediated and the city is scientifically managing its municipal solid waste, plastic waste and construction and demolition waste; there must be a steady reduction in the waste generated by the city and visible beautification of the city to achieve a clean and aesthetically pleasing city.
The Swachh Bharat Mission focus is on source segregation of solid waste, utilising the principles of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), scientific processing of all types of municipal solid waste (MSW) and remediation of legacy dumpsites for effective solid waste management.
It is true that there has been an explosion in the generation of MSW in Indian cities due to a burgeoning population and even faster urbanisation. This has severely damaged the environment and public health and strained the capacity of ULBs to collect, transport, treat and scientifically dispose of solid wastes.
Madhu Rathi, CEO and Co-founder at Recycle Bell Private limited (Econiture), says, "The definition of waste has changed over time. Waste is no longer considered as trash or abandoned material, but as an asset or resource that can generate revenues in crores. It is not only related to reducing landfill volumes but also reliance on fossil fuels. Globally, many countries have been actively working towards finding the best technologies to utilise waste. The adequate treatment of waste, or sustainable waste management, is essential not only from a sanitation point of view but also due to its economic and environmental values. This includes its potential contribution to energy generation in developing countries such as India. Many developed nations have adopted the strategies of the integrated waste management system to maximise waste-based revenues in the form of energy, fuels, heat, recyclables, value-added products, and chemicals, alongside more jobs and business opportunities."
It is estimated that waste management in India is potentially a $15 billion industry. Out of the entire waste produced in India, 25 per cent are dry waste components that can be recycled. This recyclable waste, dumped into landfills due to a lack of proper collection and infrastructure, can be reused as raw material. If it is properly segregated and processed further, it can be a highly lucrative source of revenue generating.
While talking about Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has rightly said that 'Mountains of garbage' in Indian cities will be completely wiped out and not a drop of untreated sewage should go to the rivers. Referring to landfills as 'big mountains of garbage' in cities, Modi spoke about the Ghazipur landfill in Delhi. "There is one such mountain of garbage in Delhi which has been sitting here for years and waiting to be removed," he told Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who nodded in agreement. Surely, this movement in India will create numerous 'green jobs' as well. Meanwhile, the first and foremost step to ensuring waste management is an effective collection of waste and for that, Municipal Corporations must have enough vehicles. Each vehicle should have a driver and two Safai Mitras who ensure people give only segregated waste. The waste is collected in three bins - biodegradable, non-biodegradable and sanitary waste. Special Vehicles are deployed to collect e-waste and valuable plastic waste separately. One has to keep in mind the fact that the more the waste, the more you have to manage the waste. Do we want our cities to look pretty and clean or are we thinking about how efficiently we manage our waste? Zero-waste communities will mean communities taking care of their waste – whether it's through composting locally or selling the recyclables to scrap dealers. It goes without saying that thanks to the Swachh Bharat Mission, there is a greater degree of cleanliness in the country.
(The author is Delhi-based senior journalist and writer. He is author of Gandhi's Delhi which has brought to the forth many hidden facts about Mahatma Gandhi)