” Every one must be his own scavenger – MK Gandhi “
Swacch Bharat mission has been launched, but several hurdles are there on the path.
Waste Generation and Disposal
- Lack of capacity to process the collected waste and Inadequate landfills—the waste gets transported from point A to B, where it is either dumped indefinitely, or burned periodically. Burning introduces toxins into the air. The poor end up living near such dumping grounds. Burning of solid waste/leaves is banned under the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, the document which lays down guidelines for waste management in this country. But the ban is rarely enforced by any municipality.
- Increasing amount of garbage generation – Nearly one third of the garbage is not collected at all – it is left to rot away in streets. Since half of Indian garbage is typically organic matter which is compostable, the dumped garbage rots blow around and finally decompose and mix with the soil. The remaining untreatable part – mainly plastics – can be seen flying around.
- Sewage or waste water disposal – Currently less than a third of urban India has access to sewerage systems. Industries release their wastes and effluents in the nearby water bodies.
- Open drains – biggest source of filth and the primary source of various diseases.
- We might unfortunately end up exporting our waste to countries that are poorer than ours, as the developed nations are doing.
Problem of Local bodies
- No priority for sanitation – entry in state list.
- Municipalities and PRIs don’t have adequate financial resources. A common complaint across the board is of shortage of funds for the requisite infrastructure.
- Previously, there was an “octroi,” a local tax, which used to be collected by local government and used for sanitation purposes.
- No professional expertise in the Municipal Corporation to deal with issue of waste disposal.
- Corruption – no supervision when a civil work contract is given by the Municipal Corporation. It is the responsibility of the contractor to remove all the construction material or waste, but it is pushed to the side of the road to save money that would be otherwise spent on its transportation and disposal.
Behavioral and Social Issues
- Inculcating a sense of hygiene among the masses is a challenge. Think before you throw your garbage or pee on the road.
- State funding to build toilets addresses one issue – maintenance is a big problem. Reluctance of some people to clean their own toilets, a job that historically became a caste based occupation – manual scavenging. A social journey has to be traversed before a person can take pride in keeping his own toilet clean. Changed social attitudes have to walk in tandem with public spending.
- Caste apartheid that still exists in our country against Safai karamcharis and manual scavengers.These manual scavengers form the most oppressed and suppressed class fighting to survive in the Indian society.
- Tackling problems of Safai Karamchairs – long pending demand of pension, regularization of work, promotion.
- Population pressure is a big issue. Building systems that can cover all households given entrenched sanitation habits and decayed urban management is not easy.
- Development process itself would generate much more waste as incomes rise and industry expands.