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Illegal waste management and other challenges faced in the enforcement of environmental law in India

Written By: Fiza Firdaus Ansari


Solid waste management rules (SWM) 2016, defines solid waste as solid or semi-solid domestic waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, catering and market waste and other non-residential waste, street sweepings, silt removed or collected from the surface drains, horticulture waste,  agriculture and dairy waste, treated bio-medical waste excluding industrial waste, bio-medical waste and e-waste, battery waste, radioactive waste generated in the area

  • India produces 277.1 million tonnes  of solid waste every year which is likely to touch 387.8 million tonnes in 2013 and 543.3 million tonnes in 2050 due to “rapid urbanization, population growth, and economic development”
  •  The silver lining, though, is the fact that while India’s total waste production is the highest, Bermuda and the US topped in the list when it comes to per person generation of waste every day.
  •  While Bermuda generated 4.54 kg waste per person each day, the US produced 2.24 kg per person. At 0.57 kg per person, India was below the global average of 0.74 kg per person. By 2050, however, India’s figure is projected to increase by 900gm every day.
  •  On a daily basis, the country produces more than 1.50 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of solid waste.
  •  Of the total collected waste, only 20% (27000 MT per day) is processed and the remaining 80% (1,08,000 MT per day) is dumped in landfill sites.
  • Urban areas alone generate 1,70,000 tonnes f waste per day.
  • There is also a significant disparity in the waste generated per person/day between small towns and cities. While people in small-town could stack up about 0.17 kg per person/day, their city counterparts generate about 0.62 kg per person/day.

Municipal waste is roughly classified into 5 categories

  • Recycle material (Glasses, bottles, cans, paper, metals, certain plastic, etc.)
  • Composite waste (tetra packs, toys)
  • Biodegradable waste (kitchen waste and green waste such as flowers vegetables, fruits, and leaves).
  • Inert waste (rocks, construction material, debris) and
  • Domestic has ideas and toxic waste (e-waste, fluorescent tubes, medication, light bulbs, shoe Polish).

Waste Management A Key Challenge

With the rapid urbanization,  industrialization and an explosion in population in India, solid waste management will be a key challenge for the state governments and the local municipal bodies in the 21st century. The “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” (Clean India Mission) was created to tackle these very issues related to waste management, cleanliness, and sanitation on the national level. Solid waste management is one of the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep urban centers clean.

Hyperconsumption is a curse of our modern times. Humans generate a monumental amount of waste, a sizeable portion of which is disposed of in landfills and true waste-to-energy incinerators. However, a billion tonnes of garbage, including microplastics never make it to landfills or incinerators and end up in the ocean. This garbage chokes marine life and disturbs zooplankton, which is vital to the elimination of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Methods For Waste Management

Waste management is a collective activity involving segregation, collection, transportation, re-processing, recycling, and disposal of various types of waste.

Other Environmental Challenges

Environment and life are related. Human depends on Earth’s natural resources such as Air, Water, and Land. the environmental day is celebrated on 5th June every year.

Indian Constitution

  • Article 21:- Right to life includes the right to a pollution-free environment.
  • Part IV: Art. 48A:- Protection for improvement of environment save garden of forest and wildlife
  • Part IVA: 51A clause (g):-  It imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment.
  • Art. 48A and 51A (g):-  Where I didn’t Indian constitution in 42nd amendment 1976.
  • One Directive principle and one fundamental duty.
  • Article 253 says that Parliament has the power to make laws for the country.
  • The environment protection act, 1986 was enacted under article 253.

Convention And Protocols

  • Vienna Convention, 1985: Adopted for protection of Ozone Layer.
  • Montreal Protocol, 1989:  Adopted for produce ozone depletion.
  • Basel Convention, 1992:  For transboundary movement of hazardous waste.
  • Kyoto Protocol, 1997:  Climate change.

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