Management of solid waste

Sunil Seth
Management of Solid Waste weighs a lot as India with a Billion Plus population, that too marred by the concept of “We first” but “Nation Last”. As far as the History, Biology and Chemistry of Waste Management is concerned, that is there at a click of bottom but what matters the most is the, “Psychology”. The psychology of the population behind the Management of Waste is what is yet to evolve? Where, we in India being governed by Acts which have their existence everywhere but adherence to them seems still a distant dream. Any and every planning is being done by bureaucrats, technocrats and academicians, but also when comes the adherence to the norm, it then becomes a daunting task, unfathomable too as the public involved is divided on various platforms and not aware enough to take the things seriously. “Heart rules over the Head”. Nobody in this world is all correct. Gandhi too might have been wrong at many points but one thing is crystal clear that Independence of India was a distant dream under the guidance of Nehru, who hijacked the movement unless the masses were not involved at that point of time, which was the sole effort of Gandhi later on given the title of Mahatma Gandhi. He advocated “Cleanliness to Godliness”, then at that point of time. We may have plethora of laws but when the adherence to these laws comes on ground, it becomes a Herculean task as the masses in India are “Self Centric” and not “Nation centric”, not able to think beyond subsistence. Now, when the management of Solid Waste in regards to technology is concerned i.e. their processing; resource crunch supplemented with diverse usage becomes a problem. Many a time decision is not reached because of India being a democratic setup. What I am going to say now may not be agreed upon by all but has got relevance as we the Indians are not ready as yet to embrace such big changes.
Recent decision by the worthy Judiciary regarding Act 377 i.e. LGBT Act and Act 497 (Adultery Act) which too is a closed chamber talks between the most literate class but to be implemented on majority of ill-literate class; the basic problem behind any and every management failure. Here in Management of Solid Waste comes the importance of Psychology and its relevance in Management of Solid Waste. We may have Acts for Governance; Technology for processing waste but what if don’t have the basic insight; the pre requisite to all what we have said above i.e. to control the generation of waste at the grass root level itself. If we assume that even if 20% of the waste generated is recycled and do not enter the MSW stream to be processed, this waste at an average cost of processing with Rs. 1000 per tonne will cost around Rs. 10.7 cr. per day. Our country, India is the third largest producer of Solid Waste, if not handled judiciously can create havoc in the times to come in the form of “Surface Contamination; Soil contamination; Land and Air Pollution and many more”. The Principle of “R” i.e. Repair / Reduce / Reuse / Recycle and Reclaim precisely summarizes the MSW. Different types of wastes, takes different times for decomposition ranging from days to years. Some are biodegradable, some are photodegradable. The fact that the air and water both are full of plastic particles entering our food we eat and air we breathe in. Artificial islands are coming up from wastes. Decomposition from the landfills is the biggest contributor to ill-health. What I feel is that most important part of management of the solid waste is to start with judicious use resulting in the minimal generation of waste followed by collection and then its segregation so that when the processing part is reached, minimum resources are required and the last part of its management being that landfills is reduced to the minimum leaving no scope of hazardous decomposition thereof. Garbage disposal continues to be a problem and more importantly, the non-segregation of waste at source i.e. division of garbage into “Wet and Dry” garbage for optimum reprocessing of it. It is a long way to see that the entire waste collection in a town or a city is processed and only the remnants are disposed off as landfills.
The old proverb “Charity begins at Home” fits in the best where the management starts from the home itself as being highlighted in “Swachh Bharat Mission” 2014. We have to be self aware that how we can reduce the generation of waste itself. First, we indiscriminately generate it, and then, we see its impact on environment followed by the ways to mitigate the problem. When mitigation stage reaches, we have already done a considerable damage to the habitable Mother Earth. In addition to “Physical Well Being”, we need to have “Human Well Being” also. We are living but we need to leave it for the generations to come also so that it is boon and not bane for them. I am an alumnus of “Sainik School Nagrota”, where in eighties we had one period of “Socially Useful Productive Work” during which we used to clean ourselves followed by cleaning of the surroundings and by segregating the waste after collection.
We then also planted fruit bearing trees which is a full blown “Orchard” by now. It added to the beauty and utility as well. The same concept needs to be incorporated in the Curriculum of each educational institution. If everyone is socially responsible, our responsiveness to the Mother Earth automatically will become a part of our Habit. Managing waste then will not be a problem.


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