THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 24 October 2018 (Recycle and build)

Recycle and build

Mains Paper: 2 | Governance 
Prelims level: C&D waste
Mains level: A proactive effort from municipalities and citizens towards recycling of construction and demolition waste will go a long way in curbing pollution.


  • C&D Waste Management Rules were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in March 2016.
  • For these to be translated into action, municipal corporations, municipalities and other urban local bodies need to prepare waste management plans, notify bye-laws with penalties for noncompliance, and put in place enforcement mechanisms.
  • Facilitating the recycling of C&D waste has to be an important plank of the waste management plans.
  • First and foremost, waste generators must be made aware of the nature of the hazard posed by C&D.
  • C&D waste increases particulate matter in the air and leads to air pollution.
  • Compared with municipal solid waste, it causes more traffic congestion and also pollution from dust.

Spreading awareness 

  • People must understand that as water gets trapped in the debris, this becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and no amount of spraying can reach the hidden pockets of water.
  • They also have to be made aware that as lakes, stormwater drains, ponds and other water bodies get choked, the city becomes more vulnerable to floods.
  • Dumping C&D waste in lakes for encroachment, a common practice in large cities, also results in loss of wetlands which are necessary for water purification.
  • Manual demolition by hammer and pickaxe is the norm in northern India, primarily due to the higher rates of reuse of building materials, especially good quality whole bricks, and the low wage rate.
  • One of the requirements under the rules, for example, on-site unmixed, with different heaps for soil, stones, bricks, cementitious waste, plastics, wood, etc to make reuse and recycling easier.

Way forward 

  • This can only be accomplished with community cooperation and oversight.
  • Keep C&D waste off the roads, pavements and vacant sites and encourage its transport to recycling units.
  • Bengaluru, while giving sanction to building plans, also collects ground rent for the use of pavement for storing C&D materials for 1-2 years of construction.
  • Municipalities must also remove unauthorised dumpsites on vacant land.
  • Ensure the beneficial uses of vacant sites without harming the rights of site owners but supporting the rights of neighbours for a pollutionfree environment.
  • IL&FS Environment has three recycling plants with a total capacity of 2,650 tonnes per day in Delhi.
  • Backward and forward linkages need to be forged with all recycling plants so that C&D waste reaches the recycling plants and there is an effective demand for the output from these plants.
  • It is important to set standards and have quality certification for the recycled materials so that more and more builders are encouraged to use these materials.

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UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) It is a Ramsar site in India which is a constructed wetland for sewage disposal and is both efficient and environmentally friendly. The 8,000-hectare site is a patchwork of tree-fringed canals, rice paddies and fish ponds and one-third of the city's sewage and domestic refuse is converted into a rich harvest of fish and fresh vegetables.
The wetland which is being described in the above passage is?

(a) Vembanad- Kol Lake
(b) Chilika Lake
(c) East Kolkata Wetland
(d) Wular Lake

Correct Answer: C

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Construction and demolition waste is a major environmental and health hazard. Examine and suggest sustainable solutions for dealing with C&D waste? (250 words)