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Ten Years After Enacting Waste Management Regulations, India Is Dirtier Than Ever

October 4, 2010
Murugan in trash

Even the sacred has been discarded

Yesterday, 3 October 2010, marked a decade since the enactment of India’s Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules. Yet today, India is dirtier than ever because waste management services in most localities are not in compliance with the Rules. Rather, in many localities waste management services are contracted to private parties that transport mixed garbage from streetcorner dumpsters to open dumps outside of town.

How dirty is India? According to the nation’s Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, “I think that our cities have the dubious distinction of being the dirtiest cities in the world. There is no doubt about it. If there is a Nobel Prize for dirt and filth, India will win it hands down.” (http://in.news.yahoo.com/139/20091120/808/tnl-india-has-best-environment-laws-but.html)

Gazetted on 3 October 2000, the Rules mandated daily, house-to-house collection of waste that is segregated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable categories. Biodegradable waste was to be composted, and non-biodegradable waste was to be recycled. The primary objectives of the Rules were to safeguard public health and minimize the burden on India’s landfills and dumpsites. The Rules also directed all local authorities to upgrade open dumps to sanitary landfills.

Initially, local bodies were given until December 2003 to bring their waste management services into compliance with the Rules. That deadline was widely ignored, so the central government extended the deadline by five years. But that deadline too was widely ignored. As of today, few localities comply with the Rules, yet, despite the damage done by pollution to public health and India’s image, no official has been punished for violating the law.

According to several sources, a committee has been revising the Rules since 2008, yet no one I know has a clue about the nature of such revisions, or when the revised rules might be announced.

How dirty must India become before the Rules are enforced?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Venk Shenoi permalink
    April 28, 2011 6:45 am

    You have high hopes – Rules mean nothing unless society recognises their need and is willing to apply/enforce and pay for it.

    Indians put up with filth outside assuming the daily bathing and house-cleaning is all that is needed.

    As a society Indians live in thir silos thinking the outside is for someone else to manage.

    This will only change when faced with catastrophic plagues or revolution and when the waste handlers go on strike and filth penetrates their homes.

    • Brooks Anderson permalink*
      April 28, 2011 7:14 am

      Venk,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I long ago abandoned all hope. After doing so, I discovered that life is far easier without the burden of struggling to keep hope afloat.

      Brooks

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