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Written by Kabir Arora


Country India

August 05, 2015

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Swach Bharat Abhiyaan & Smart Cities Mission Consider ‘Waste to Energy’ Smart Solution
Written by Kabir Arora. 08/25/2015

Urban growth in India is going haywire. Infrastructure is crumbling; cities are choked with pollution and garbage. Majority of the urban populace has very little access to basic environmental services. New government at union level has prioritized cities as an important area for India’s transformation. Urban centres are and will be the engines of growth. It’s important to understand policies and their implication on urban India. Swach Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Mission), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart Cities Mission are talk of the day.  In this blog –post we will be looking at Solid Waste Management framework proposed in Swach Bharat Abhiyaan and Smart Cities Mission.

Guidelines begin with Presidential address to the joint session of parliament on 9th June, 2014: “We must not tolerate the indignity of homes without toilets and public spaces littered with garbage. For ensuring hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation, a “Swachh Bharat Mission” will be launched. This will be our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary to be celebrated in the year 2019”.

The ambit of Swach Bharat Abhiyaan is fairly big. It incorporates detailed elements including toilet designs when it comes to sanitation. The guidelines also include framing of solid waste management. Urban and rural India are the geographies of the mission.

Mission strategy on solid waste management includes focus on special groups and talks about integration of informal sector workers in waste management.

“In their efforts to streamline and formalize SWM systems it shall be the endeavour of ULBs that the informal sector workers in waste management (rag pickers) are given priority to upgrade their work conditions and are enumerated and integrated into the formal system of SWM in cities.”

The document states that the integration and enumeration of wastepickers should be done. But it doesn’t appreciate the role they play in recycling the generated waste. Nowhere in the guidelines had union government recommended either strengthening recycling industry or enforcing Extended Producers’ Responsibility. It subtly and in places explicitly suggests ‘waste to energy’ as a worthy technology to deal with dry waste. For wet waste it suggests large scale composting.

The mission costs for both sanitation and solid waste management is Rs. 62009 crores as mentioned in the outlay. Government of India earmarked support is Rs. 14623 crores. States are to contribute 25% of the overall costs. Other sources have been listed in the outlay. Those are user charges, Swach Bharat Kosh, market borrowing, corporate social responsibility and other forms of external assistance.

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Kabir Arora is the coordinator of Alliance of Indian Wastepickers and is based in Bengaluru India.