Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How can we do the 3Rs when we are moving in the wrong direction?

The MSW Rules 2016 and the GoI policy consider 'Reduce' (Reducing consumption - one among the 3Rs) as one of the main pillars of solid waste management strategy ! However, other sections of the same establishment want 'growth'/ 'development' and 'urbanisation' at a rapid pace. When we are aspiring for sustained double digit GDP growth through internal consumption, then how this 'Reduce' thing will happen? As per the following article in The Guardian, across the globe solid waste quantities are projected to double from 3 million tons/day to over 6 million tons/day and most of this is going to take place in East and South Asia. When we are going to lead the race in waste generation in the world (never mind losing the races in the Olympics) (!), then like an ostrich why are our policy makers burying their heads in the sand? We are assuming that 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' will solve bulk of our problem (!), not recognising the global industry trend of producing cheaper products and promoting the culture of use and throw , rather than robust products which can be repaired and used for a long time. Cheap mobiles, computers and electronics are ready examples of this trend (see another paper by David McRobert and Meghan Robinson).

Image result for burying head in sand
Our folks do not want to set up sanitary landfills (SLF) and neither do they want to pay appropriate tipping fees to the treatment plant operators who are willing to help in reducing the quantity of waste that is required to be safely disposed of in SLFs. We are fascinated and infatuated with these fancy terms viz., 'waste to wealth' and 'garbage to gold', without recognising that it all comes at a good price.

If we do not pay a legitimate price, then the public is anyway paying a hefty price to the doctors, hospitals, blood testing labs and the pharmacies on account of outbreak of viral epidemics - dengue, chikungunya, malaria (including rabies in Kerala) .......Looks like now prayers to the God only will help, because we are a country with great spiritual heritage! 

1 comment:

Nuggehalli Vasuki said...

Very good description of the problem facing India and South Asia. If there was really GOLD in GARBAGE companies would line up to take the daily discards from home and businesses. Instead, residents and businesses have to pay some one (through taxes and/ or fees to get rid of the mess. There is no realism in the public policy making. Government of India and many of the states have been pushing the public to separate the wastes for over a decade. They do not seem to recognize that not even one ULB has successfully managed the solid waste discards.
The time tables proposed by ULBs to clean up the mess is totally unrealistic. With the new Swaach Bharath tax many will get the gold without cleaning up the environment. May God bless India and direct the governments to rapidly build Modern Engineered Landfills first!