Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The challenge of the Draft MSW Rules 2015!

If the Draft MSW Rules 2015 get approved and notified, then in the name of decentralisation we will have a biogas plant in every colony, every campus and every mall ! The smell will be a bonus; Likewise every locality may have small scale composting - mismanagement and nuisance will come for free ! In the name of decentralised treatment some die hard solid waste management experts are planning to create mayhem in Indian cities; It appears they do not perceive the need of getting expert advice from town planners, landscape specialists, architects, real estate agents etc. who perhaps bring more balanced perspective on matters related to urban spaces, layouts and aspirations on quality of life, aesthetics, etc. 
The authors of the Draft Rules perceive Indian society to be as educated, aware, concerned and committed towards environment as those of Japan and Western Europe ! The assumptions are simplistic and utopian....We are expecting segregation of sanitary napkins and diapers in a separate category called 'sanitary waste' as if the 'green' and the 'brown' or the 'wet' and 'dry' or 'biodegradable' and non-biodegradable' were not enough !! And the RUles give a further surprise - they state that the sanitary waste should be wrapped up in a newspaper and kept along with 'dry waste' (as if newspapers have enough strength to hold onto it after it gets soggy from the moisture) !! Moreover the Rules do not mention how this category of waste will be collected, stored at the CWDs, transported and disposed of ! It appears that we are not drawing lessons from the experience of last 15 years where the segregation paradigm has not been successful.  
The Rules are heavily in favour of treating the waste and therefore use the term 'processing' as if there will be significant value addition. The purpose of treatment is being disregarded - it is reduction of volume and nuisance, not to generate positive cash flows. As shown below, we have a long list of failed plants all across the country.

Plant status

Thiruannanthpuram, Kollam, Vijaywada, Bangalore (2);
Thane, Mumbai (3);
Kolkata,  Asansol, Durgapur, Shillong, Jagannathpuri;
Delhi (3), Shimla, Gwalior, Bhopal; Yamunanagar;
Air field Stn. (6), Bareilly, Kanpur;
Ahmedabad, Rajkot.
Delhi and Bangalore
Mumbai  (400 MT/d); Suryapet, Ramagundam;
Chalisgaon, Phaltan; and a number of small scale plants all across the country.

Lucknow, Chennai (Koyumbedu), Vijaywada.

Sholapur; small scale plants in Pune, Mumbai, etc.
Mass burn
Timarpur @ Delhi (1988-90)
Okhla @ Delhi (2011)
Baroda,  Mumbai,  Jaipur;
Bangalore,  Guntur-Vijaywada, Hyderabad.
Chandigarh, Ahmadabad.

Treatment is proposed for minimising or to the extent of eliminating sanitary landfills. In this regard the Rules are attempting to  embrace the European paradigm of 'Zero Waste' ! But interestingly we are already there - we do not send any waste to SLFs because we do not have any !! Unfortunately, in absence of SLFs, every city will have open dump sites with smoldering waste pile...., etc. For example, see the pictures from Shillong and Vijayawada:

The Rules also bring a strange concept of temporary landfill/ stocking, in the event of a plant facing shut down for maintenance, so that the material can be used when the plant becomes operational! However it is extremely challenging to bring this in practice. Further, the Rules expect ULBs to stock separately the combustible material and send it later to a cement factory. Good idea, but the challenge is that the material will spread odour and can catch fire.

The following picture shows the situation of few years back at the open dumpsite of Gazipur in Delhi:

PS: For a good look and feel, click the pictures to enlarge!

1 comment:

Foundation for Greentech Environmental Systems said...

An interesting twist in the (Revised) Draft MSW Rules, 2015. They require every organiser of a large event, party etc. to take the responsibility of segregating the waste in bio and non-bio !! So next time you are attending a big fat Indian wedding (and there are too many happening every where, any way), do not be surprised if you see the father of the bride sorting garbage at the end of the dinner, or asking you to take care of your dry and wet waste !! Otherwise the organiser is liable to pay a fine !! But what about the rowdies in a college party?! Which sanitary inspector will like to take the risk of fining twenty somethings?!