Alappuzha, Panaji and Mysuru are the cleanest cities in the country, said an environmental NGO after conducting a survey about the functioning of waste management systems across Indian cities.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)'s Clean City awards will be bestowed upon these cities at a function on Tuesday, which will be presided over by Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.
At the event, the CSE's latest report on the solid waste management in Indian cities will also be released.
The report titled, Not in My backyard, boasts of the new findings from the CSE's survey highlighting the gaping holes in the waste management policy and seeks to provide inputs for the future course of action.
“This book started as a survey—we wanted to simply know which city is India’s cleanest. We knew that once we found out which is the cleanest, we would also find out what makes it so. This would give us the answers for future policy,” said CSE director general Sunita Narain.
The CSE also cited a 2007 CAG report to highlight sluggish and non-compliance work approach of the authorities responsible for waste management.
“The report found waste was collected in 22 per cent of 56 sampled municipalities, segregation was done in 10 per cent, storage in 17 per cent, transportation using covered trucks was done in 18 per cent of the sampled municipalities and only 11 per cent had waste processing capabilities,” the CSE said.
“The report also found that only six municipalities had landfills—others were dumping in open sites,” it added.
The CSE also pointed out that the civic agencies in various cities have been dumping garbage in landfills, which were not made according to stipulated sanitary standards.
A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report estimates that more than 90 per cent of Indian cities with a functional collection system dispose of their waste in landfills.
“In 2008, CPCB’s monitoring of cities found that 24 out of 59 cities were making use of landfills, covering 1,900 hectares of land,” the CSE said.
The CSE quoting Department of Economic Affairs said that “India by 2047 would be producing 260 million tonnes of waste annually needing over 1,400 sq km of landfills. This is an area equal to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai put together.”
“As India becomes more literate and politically aware, most cities are encountering stiff resistance when they attempt to dispose of waste in somebody else’s backyard,” said Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general. He added that the resistance will grow and getting an approval for landfills in the future will become difficult.
According to Narain said the problem is two-fold. One, households and institutions are not responsible for managing, through segregation or payment of the waste they generate. Two, there is an absolute collapse of financial and institutional (human) capacity and so accountability in our municipal systems.
“In this scenario, the best option is what we have found exists in Kerala, where municipalities have withdrawn from the waste business. People segregate and compost; informal recyclers collect and sell. This is perhaps the most exciting model for future waste business in the country. And even if it cannot be emulated completely, it holds important lessons for other cities,” added Narain.