Solid Waste Management Rules 2016: How well they have been implemented on ground?

Author

Dr Nomesh Bolia

Dr Nomesh Bolia

President | VIF
Apula Singh

Apula Singh

Research Associate | VIF

The 2016 Rules supersede the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2000 and expand the ambit of application to every urban local body, including outgrowths in urban agglomerations, census towns, areas under Railways and airports.

It has been over a year since the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 (SWMR) were notified on 8th April 2016 to lay a solid framework for scientific waste management across urban settlements. The 2016 Rules supersede the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2000 and expand the ambit of application to every urban local body, including outgrowths in urban agglomerations, census towns, areas under Railways and airports.

The SWMR have several pioneering features. They put the onus of segregation on the waste generator and require segregation into 6 categories – biodegradable, non-biodegradable, domestic-hazardous, sanitary, construction-demolition and horticulture. With over one year since notification of SWMR, all resident associations and commercial institutions, in partnership with a local body, are required to segregate waste, process biodegradable waste, through on-site composting or bio-methanation and hand over recyclable waste to authorised waste pickers or recyclers. This clause heralds a path-breaking paradigm of decentralised waste management through the mantra of handle-your-own-filth. This obviates the need for a gargantuan centralised system of waste management requiring little community participation and rendering it unsustainable, un-scalable, uncivilized and unfair.

The Rules also require setting up of a material recovery facility for enabling informal/authorised waste collectors to sort out recyclable products. India has a strong “informal” waste economy, and the SWMR recognize, leverage this unique strength. Overall, the decentralized waste management envisaged, involving the community and harnessing India’s inherent opportunities, is critical according to experts and think tanks such as the Centre for Science and Environment.

If implemented well, SWMR have the potential to transform waste management system in India. In fact, for a country with such monumental waste management woes as ours, the rules seem too good to be true. Now before the result of Swachh Survekshan 2017 is released on 4th May, a reality check is in order: how well have SWMR been implemented?

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