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Swachh Survekshan 2018 looks at visible cleanliness, not effective waste management solutions: CSE

Swachh Survekshan

New Delhi, June 25

“Swachh Survekshan 2018 awards cities that have worked only on cleaning the city but not on how to process and recycle the waste,” said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) here today, on the latest cleanliness survey results released by the government.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, said: “Majority of the top 50 cities (with population above 1 lakh) are visibly clean, but do not have appropriate systems for processing and disposal. They continue to collect waste and dump it in poorly managed landfills and dumpsites.”

As per the CSE analysis, most of the cities in the top 50 do not collect segregated waste at source. In Chandigarh, NDMC (North Delhi Municipal Council), SDMC (South Delhi Municipal Council), Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Greater Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur and Jaipur there is no collection of segregated waste at source; at some places, however, mixed waste is further sorted into different fractions.

Indore, ranked as the cleanest city in the country, has definitely created systems for segregation, collection, processing and disposal. But Indore’s model has been found to be highly capital-intensive as it is based on centralized processing; many cities cannot afford to manage their waste with such a capital-intensive waste system.

Eleven out of the top 50 cities are from Madhya Pradesh. Though, collection has drastically improved in these cities, segregation at source, processing and disposal is still a concern.

Chandigarh (third cleanest in the recent results) has no effective system to segregate waste at source. The city has received much flak in the recent past from its residents for its ineffective collection and transportation of wastes. The city’s processing plant, managed by the Jaypee group in Dadu Majra, has been under legal turmoil.

In NDMC (ranked 4) and SDMC (ranked 32), garbage disposal has been mechanized by using waste compactors; however, 80 per cent of the waste processing is happening via waste-to-energy. The waste-to-energy plant in Okhla has been under intense scrutiny for causing pollution.

Cities such as Tirupati, Aligarh and Ghaziabad have no proper processing and disposal mechanisms in place. Jaipur (ranked 39) has a centralized composting plant managed (handles mixed waste) by IL&FS and a dumpyard where all the garbage is disposed.

Many cities of Chhattisgarh have performed very well in the Survekshan 2018. “Cities in Chhattisgarh have adopted the Ambikapur model which entirely focuses on segregation, recycling and reuse. We are happy that the Survekshan methodology has captured the good work being done in smaller cities,” said Swati Singh Sambyal, Programme Manager, Waste Management unit, CSE. However, the Survekshan methodology is not recognizing cities that have adopted highly decentralized systems.

“One major anomaly in the Survekshan results is that it continues to mark cities on their door-to-door collection systems. But some cities do not practice door-to-door, and yet are the cleanest, adopting household level treatment of wet waste and collection of dry waste by the local body,” said Sambyal.

Most of the waste in these cities (for instance in Kerala) is converted into compost or biogas at the household or community-level. Inorganic wastes like plastic, glass, metals, papers etc. are sent for recycling. These cities make money from solid waste rather than spending crores of rupees in collecting and transporting waste to landfills, pointed out CSE researchers.

‘Cities must shift their focus towards creating end-to-end systems to support segregation with effective processing and disposal mechanisms. Our analysis shows that waste management based on segregation and decentralized processing is cost-effective and sustainable. Swachh Survekshan must incentivise segregation and not merely cleanliness,” summed up Bhushan.


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