GS Mains Model Question & Answer: India need a Solid waste management plans to be implemented alongside maintenance of drainage and sewerage networks. Discuss

GS Mains Model Question & Answer: India need a Solid waste management plans to be implemented alongside maintenance of drainage and sewerage networks. Discuss

Q. India need a Solid waste management plans to be implemented alongside maintenance of drainage and sewerage networks. Discuss (12.5 Marks)

(General Studies Mains Paper III – Science and Technology : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.)

Model Answer :

In India, solid waste management needs to be planned and implemented alongside well-maintained drainage and sewerage networks and with the active participation of the communities. In the case of India, sustainable solid waste management in 2011 would have provided

  • 9.6 million tons of compost that could have resulted in a better agricultural yield
  • energy equivalent to 58 million barrels of oil from non-recyclable wastes
  • 6.7 million tons of secondary raw materials to industries in the form of recyclable materials and livelihood to the urban poor

The solid waste management component of the Smart Cities Mission should be viewed as a bonus. Many people understand that we need more toilets, including community toilets, to ensure that there is no open defecation. But there is not an adequate realisation that we need connectivity to sewerage networks and sewage treatment and/or decentralised septage management to ensure proper sanitary conditions for Clean India. Swacch Bharat and AMRUT together must address this challenge. Swachh Bharat addresses one half of the problem — solid waste management, freedom from open defecation, and street cleaning. The other half — drainage and sewerage networks and waste water treatment — comes under AMRUT.

Solid waste management and Health

Many people understand the connection between solid waste management and health in terms of the consequences of unattended heaps of dry garbage which become a home for flies and other vermin. However, there is another aspect that is not well understood, that is, what happens when unscientific solid waste management combines with poor drainage and dumping of untreated sewage into drains which are meant to carry storm water during rains. The result is choked drains which are full of stagnant water breeding mosquitoes, resulting in the spread of water-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya, etc.

Plastic Waste

A special challenge is posed by plastic waste which has been increasing very rapidly in Indian cities. When plastic is present in exposed garbage dumps, rains create little pools of stagnant water which get caught in the plastic waste, which breeds mosquitoes and spreads disease. The problem is compounded when garbage and/or street sweepings including plastic are swept into municipal storm water drains, again choking the drainage system. It is therefore not enough to sweep the streets clean with brooms but also ensure that the waste is not dumped into the drains.

Residential Welfare Associations and Municipalties

Resident welfare associations have a major role to play in creating awareness of the damaging impact of our approach to domestic waste. They can help in changing mindsets of residents towards segregating garbage at the household level, discouraging throwing of plastic waste on the streets and reporting cases of monsoon drains clogged with garbage. The municipal authorities should supply to each resident welfare association a list of dos and don’ts which the association could disseminate among its members.

New SWM Rules, 2016

The SWM Rules, 2016 diminish hopes in pushing for adoption of a decentralised mechanism for solid waste management. However, it would be challenging to see how segregation at source shall work on the ground. A massive awareness campaign in association with communities, NGOs, students and other stakeholders needs to be planned to push for better implementation of these rules. The Rules need to focus on making solid waste management a people's movement by taking the issues, concerns and management of solid waste to citizens and grass-roots.


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