Solid Waste Management: A shared responsibility
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Solid Waste Management: A shared responsibility

If every individual made a conscientious effort to manage household waste, we could put an end to the piling garbage at our street corners & in our oceans & water bodies

Post by on Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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The current economic model based on capitalism promises to generate economic growth. With this growth comes the modern methods of production, urbanization and economic progress that has its share of disadvantages. Market models often exclude externalities such as pollution. Such models are the basis for many environmentalist attacks on mainstream economists. It is said that if the social costs of externalities were included in the models their conclusions would be very different, and models are often accused of leaving out these terms because of economist's pro-free market bias. Given the large role of economic activity in causing rapid change in earth systems, and the scale of the sustainable development challenge, there is an urgent need for more rapid integration of economics into the core of sustainable development, and for more rapid integration of sustainable development into the core of economics.

As country progresses it produces huge amounts of goods & services for its citizenry. Along with these “goods” comes peculiar stuff and one of the most pervasive of these is Waste ,things that we don’t want but that can be dangerous or expensive to get rid of. Waste is part of the economy-it is a byproduct of economic activity, supplied by different players of the economy. Waste is also an input to economic activity whether through material or energy recovery. Currently, countries face a serious problem due to the generation & management of greater quantities of waste caused by economic growth & new economic models based on encouraging ever-greater consumption rates in society.

Not only do we produce more solid waste as we get richer, but also we produce more of it in our growing cities, where it presents special problems. Waste as with many other forms of pollution, is not much of a problem if it is produced in small quantities. But as countries grow richer, agricultural productivity rises & farmers are freed for non agricultural occupations. These new occupations are usually urban occupations, which means that cities grow & waste becomes a more serious aesthetic & health problem. The management of that waste has economic implications for productivity, government expenditure & of course environment. This waste is ultimately thrown into municipal waste collection centres from where it is collected by the area municipalities to be further thrown into the landfills and dumps. However, either due to resource crunch or inefficient infrastructure, not all of this waste gets collected and transported to the final dumpsites. If at this stage the management and disposal is improperly done, it can cause serious impacts on health and problems to the surrounding environment. Municipal solid waste management means the management of waste generation , its loading , assortment , transmission & transportation , practice & dumping in an exceedingly manner that is in accordance with most effective principles of public’s health , economics , aesthetics , & alternative ecological concerns .

 Over the last three decades the UT of Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed rapid urbanization. Majority of the urban population is concentrated in major cities like Srinagar, which are struggling to deliver municipal services efficiently to meet the increased demand .Solid waste is not just dumped at the land filling site, but one can find it littered everywhere on road paths. Our Srinagar city is one of the prime examples of Solid Waste Mismanagement which is seriously struggling to design useful and economical solid waste management system.

The municipal boundary of Srinagar covers a total area of 294Sq.Kms which is divided into 74 Electoral Wards which is further clubbed into 35 Administrative Wards. As per the Census 2011, the total population of the city is 11.92 lakhs. Like, in most states, Solid Waste Management operations are typically a local responsibility. In this regard Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has been entrusted with responsibility for policy development & regulatory oversight in the waste sector.

Srinagar generates about 600 MT of waste per day. The waste is collected from 1.87 lakh households, 1240 hotels/restaurant facilities, & 8560 commercial establishments. At present 80% of the total waste generated is being collected by SMC .The municipal waste is disposed at a dumping site at Syedpora Achan. The dumping site occupies 0.27 sq km of land. According to Master Plan of Srinagar Metropolitan area 2000-2021, the city generated 538 MT of waste per day in the year 2000. 300 tons were collected & handled by the SMC. Out of the remaining 236 tons, some percentage of recyclables was being salvaged, but a majority of the household domestic waste was being dumped in water bodies, ditches & along roadside .The waste polluted the water bodies .Open dumps of waste attracted street dogs, besides spreading local obnoxious smell in these particular areas. Also the unscientific waste disposal at the landfill in Achan has become a source of nuisance in the surrounding villages. During summers the terrible stink of the leachate engulf the entire city. The leachate also pollutes the underground water in the region. So there seems a total anarchy in the management of solid waste in city

To deal with putative menace of solid waste all stakeholders will have to work concomitantly so as to put an end to this pressing issue. A more aware & cooperative public could help the civic body grapple with the problem of waste. People need to be aware that unsafe disposal could have consequences recoiling upon themselves. It is the responsibility of every individual to be more organized & plan their waste disposal efficiently. Segregation at source should be at the heart of municipalities’ solid waste management system. On the institutional part we need to turn the system of garbage management on its head. Only then will we really clean our cities—not just sweep the dirt under the carpet.  Private investment could be an answer as Private companies have the economies of scale to spread investment, environmental protection, and procurement costs across multiple contracts and facilities. Each instrument from fiscal incentives, regulation & legislation, to voluntary agreements & information campaigns-when deployed in the right circumstances can produce an efficient outcome at the least cost, without creating any perverse secondary effects. If every individual made a conscientious effort to manage household waste, we could put an end to the piling garbage at our street corners & in our oceans & water bodies. So make an effort to manage your household waste for greener tomorrow.

 

(Author is Researcher at Dept. of Economics, IUST Awantipora. He can be reached at Wahid.Bhat@islamiuniversity.edu.in)