Solid Waste Management Cess

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Source– This post on Solid Waste Management Cess is based on the article “What is SWM Cess and Why is It Levied on Waste Generators?”  published in “The Hindu” on 17th June 2024.

Why in the News?

Recently, The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has proposed a Solid Waste Management Cess of ₹100 per month for each household. Currently, ULBs typically charge about ₹30-50 per month for SWM services, which is often collected along with property tax.

About SWM Cess

1. SWM Cess is a fee levied by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to cover the costs of managing solid waste within their jurisdictions.

2. Purpose: The fee is intended to support the various activities involved in solid waste management, such as collection, transportation, processing, and disposal of waste.

Rationale Behind SWM Cess

1. Financial Strain:

i) Providing SWM services is both complex and resource-intensive, consuming up to 50% of ULBs’ annual budgets.

ii)  Significant funds are required for capital investments like vehicles and processing facilities, as well as operational costs for salaries, waste collection, and plant operations.

2. Revenue Challenges:

i) Low Revenue: Despite high expenditure, revenue from SWM services is minimal. For instance, Bangalore generates around 5,000 tonnes of solid waste per day, requiring substantial resources for management.

ii) Recyclable Material: Only a small portion (1-2%) of dry waste is recyclable, with the rest being non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.

3. Operational Challenges:

i) Segregation and Processing: Lack of proper waste segregation at the source and the limited market for finished products make waste processing financially unviable.

ii) Disposal Costs: Non-compostable and non-recyclable dry waste disposal is expensive due to transportation costs to facilities located far from the cities.

Strategies to Reduce Operational Expenditure

1. Segregation of Waste at Source: Proper segregation can increase yields from composting operations and send more dry waste for recycling, reducing overall operational costs.

2. Reducing Single-Use Plastics: Minimizing the use of single-use plastics can lower transportation and disposal costs, as these materials add bulk and complexity to waste management.

3. Decentralized Composting Initiatives: Implementing Micro Composting Centers (MCCs) at the ward level can process wet waste locally, reducing transportation costs and improving efficiency.

4. Information, Education, and Awareness (IEC): Educating the public to prevent open littering and improper waste disposal can reduce the need for extensive road sweeping and drain clearing, freeing up resources for other waste management tasks.

5. Bulk Waste Generators to Process Their Own Waste: Large institutions with adequate space can set up in-house waste processing facilities, reducing the load on ULBs and contributing to cleaner environments.

UPSC Syllabus: Environment

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