17 Policy Changes Needed for Swachh Bharat
Greetings. Based on the best and worst practices I have observed in visits to 161 Indian cities and their dumpsites and waste processing attempts to date over 23 years, I respectfully submit the following points for consideration to achieve the long overdue objective of Swaha Bharat.
1, India needs an Urban Solid Waste Management Mission to meet 2019 deadlines for clean cities in focused mission mode.
2, Make it mandatory for citizens to keep Wet and Dry waste unmixed
3, Make it mandatory for ULBs to ensure Separate Collection and Separate Transport of wet and dry wastes. This is a prerequisite for citizen cooperation.
4, Ideally, Wet waste (food, fruit flowers) must be collected daily and dry waste weekly. Benefits of dry recyclables sales should go only to the primary waste-collection team to incentivize unmixed collection and thereby waste reduction. Unwanted unsaleable non-compostables should have a separate destination from wet waste
5, Strongly ask all BJP Councillors everywhere, if not all elected representatives, to Ensure Separate Collection and Transport in their Wards, with zero tolerance for mixed waste transport in both primary and secondary routes. Give monetary or political rewards to councilors of wards with maximum unmixed waste collection
6, Pushcarts with bins and bags hanging on double-handles work best (e.g. Warangal, Kolar, Guntur). Phase out mechanical dumper-placers and street containers or collection points. Synchronise secondary-collection vehicles with primary collection timings to avoid on-road waste storage.
7, Ensure minimum 50% waste collection and transport by ULB’s own staff, max 50% outsourced to contractors. This will prevent existing malpractices.
8, Phase out payment-by-weight or payment-by-trip collection-transport contracts as these discourage waste minimization. Replace with per-capita-based contracts to encourage transport savings through waste reduction. Try a pilot in one metro city in every State.
9, Enforce unloading of waste in windrows only, for stabilizing by weekly turnings. Circulate waste Stabilising guidelines endorsed by hon. Supreme Court in July 1997 (Annexed). Stop all open dumping in unturned high heaps which release smell and leachate withut access to air. Such ‘Biological stabilization of wet waste’ is mandated in MSW Rules (Sch 2 (5). Only unloading discipline (like parking-lot management) is necessary for compliance. Upgrading the stabilized waste to FCO-grade compost is optional.
10, Encourage production of biogas by bulk producers of wet waste to replace cooking gas on-site. (Producing electricity from the gas loses 75% of its energy content). Decentralised biomethanation like this works best, is eco-friendly and capital costs can be funded from waste-transport savings.
11, Entirely avoid all “Burn” technologies for waste to energy (WTE) like incineration, pyrolysis, plasma, gasification etc as these are totally unviable because of the low calorific value and high soil content of Indian waste. They are also dangerous because of high content of PVC in Indian waste (including banners and hoardings) which generates dioxins for which India is not equipped even to test for, let alone monitor or control. We have a history of 22 years of failure since 1996 trying to copy a technology suitable for disciplined Western cities with high-calorie waste, a need for heating their buildings, and strict compliance with enviro-norms.
12, Mandate the use of unrecyclable plastics (like metallised multifilm snackfood sachets or “kurkure”) in hot-mix asphalt plants for “plastic roads” with doubled life, approved by Indian Roads Congress. Refer CPCB’s guidelines PROBES/101/2005-06 on how to use waste plastics and PROBES/122/2008-09 on improved tar road quality.
13, For “kurkure” and other nonrecyclable plastics, also encourage Polymer-To-Fuel (P2F) units to produce diesel by depolymerisation below 400oC, an acceptable, safe and now economically viable WTE option.
15, Clear all existing dumps of untreated garbage by Biomining : loosening, windrowing for full stabilization, gravity screening and 90% use of different fractions like plastics for recycling, fine organics (bio-earth) for soil improvement, sand and gravel for road shoulders, stones and concrete if any for road sub-grade, soil/earth for fill. Reclaimed space can be reused for waste processing or alternate non-habitation uses.
16, In all Class 1 Cities to begin with, create autonomous Waste Management Corporations like ESCOMs or Water Supply and Sewerage Boards to ensure continuity of policies and insulate the currently highly corrupt urban cleaning function from elected councillors’ interference and benami contracts.
17, For Tier 2 and 3 towns, adopt the Clean Cities model which has achieved, for example, ongoing 100% doorstep collection, 70% segregation and 100% decentralized waste stabilization by Stack Composting at Kolar (pop. 1.5 lakh) in less than one month. more