Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

After fighting a losing battle with the growing tide of municipal waste, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has notified the new Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 with clear responsibilities assigned to various classes of consumers. For these rules to have any significant impact, however, the local bodies in charge of implementation should appeal to the rational impulses of communities — a small effort at segregating trash at source would be a good thing for their household budgets. Cities and towns would then have to provide the logistical chain to evacuate waste, with a cash compensation system in place for the consumer. In the absence of such a system, the rules issued 16 years ago failed spectacularly. Urban municipal bodies found it convenient to merely transport waste to the suburbs, sometimes through private agencies that secured lucrative long-term contracts. Policy failure is all too evident when Environment Minister says that the estimated 62 million tonnes of waste a year is not fully collected or treated. Worryingly, it will go up to some 165 million tonnes in 2030, and dramatic episodes of air and water pollution from mountains of garbage as seen in Mumbai and Bengaluru in recent times could be witnessed in more places.

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