More buildings set to achieve net-zero waste

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Source: The post is based on the article “More buildings set to achieve net-zero wastepublished in The Hindu on 13th March 2023.

What is the News?

The Union Government is planning to soon issue guidelines for upcoming housing societies and commercial complexes in the country to mandatorily ensure net­-zero waste and have their liquid discharge treated.

Note: Achieving net­-zero waste means reducing, reusing and recovering waste streams (sludge) to convert them to valuable resources so that zero solid waste is sent to landfills.

What are the guidelines that will be issued by the Union Government?

In Union Budget 2023-­24, the Finance Minister announced that all cities and towns would be enabled for 100% transition of sewers and septic tanks from manhole to machine hole mode.

In the backdrop of this, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry will soon release guidelines which will consists of: 

Firstly, a directive to all State governments to incorporate the net-zero waste requirement in the building by-laws and ensure its implementation.

Secondly, asking urban local bodies such as municipalities to explore the potential of commercial use of processed sludge as fertilizer and empanelling all agencies providing sanitation services in both the organized and unorganized sectors.

Thirdly, for proper implementation, the Centre will ask the States to impose a legal penalty if buildings do not adhere to the by-laws and standard operating procedures.

Apart from these guidelines, the government will also review the Indian standards for mechanized cleaning equipment and consider differential tariff rates for residential and commercial de-sludging.

– A “Make in India” start-up for promoting low-cost technological solutions such as mechanized spades and sensor sticks for gas detection is being considered.

What is the significance of these guidelines?

Helps in eradicating manual scavenging: These guidelines are part of the government’s effort to implement the manhole-to-machine-hole scheme to eradicate manual scavenging.

Achieving SDG Goals: A mechanized sewage system, coupled with the mandatory zero net waste clause for housing and commercial complexes, was also important for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

– The United Nations SDG 6.3 aims at “halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally” by 2030.

– India currently generates 72,368 million litres of urban wastewater a day, of which only 28% is treated.

Generate income: According to a 2021 Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry report titled “Circular economy in municipal solid and liquid waste”, India’s economy could be boosted if the sale of treated sewage is institutionalised. At a conservative estimate, it has the potential to add close to ₹3,285 crore annually.

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