SWM Rules 2016 - A Wakeup
for All Stakeholders
rules 2016 considered by many, as possibly, the most convincing policy
support document for solid waste management in Indian history was
notified and published on 17th March 2016. Currently, one year down the
line, has it created any significant impacts on development and waste
management plans of cities, states and local bodies. This is a debatable
question for policy makers, experts and other stakeholders.
'Swachh Bharat' is a flagship programme of
the Government of India and it has its roots in almost every sector and
programmes running in India. For the first time in India's history, the
subject of waste management and cleanliness has been given such a great
importance and now is the right time that turnkey change in practices
should happen. Waste management has become a political tool used to
evaluate performance of governments resulting in all urban and rural
local bodies putting in their maximum efforts and efficiency.1
The objectives of 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan'
supported with financially funded programmes like AMRUT, Smart City
programme and other initiatives promotes local governments to implement
better waste management strategies. Further adding to the pressure, the
SWM rules 2016 published by MoEF & CC act as a policy tool enabling,
empowering and enforcing ULBs to bring around
efficient and clean waste management practices.
Unlike the MSWM rules 2000, the latest rules
give proper advice on the role of each of the stakeholders and there are
provisions to tightly monitor performances because of the deadlines
provided in the rules for different levels of governments to prepare
their own waste management plans and implement the same.
Even though there are many solid turnkey
specifications mentioned in the rules, few of the most interlinked
significant ones are the stress on source segregation, promotion of
waste to energy, incorporation of specific timelines for delivery of
outputs and the concept of multi stakeholder responsibility.
Lack of source segregation is the major
constraint for waste management in India and leads to the failure of
many waste processing initiatives in the country. The multi-stakeholder
responsibility as per SWM rules 2016 takes a part of the responsibility
from the ULBs to the waste generators and other stakeholders.
Since the responsibility is taken to the
generator, behavioural change will become inevitable. But it is up to
the local authorities and state authorities to take up the opportunity
and amend their rules and implement practices to incorporate the
changes. Certain municipalities have already adopted systems to
incorporate generator responsibility and implement segregation at the
household level. Strict actions like taking undertakings from households
to segregate their waste, not accepting waste at source if not
segregated and imposing fines have been very effective in some ULBs. The
major tactic used by Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation which actually
achieved 100% segregation recently is such an example. Some Municipal
Corporations like Trivandrum even went to the extent of pushing
generators to implement decentralised wet waste management at the
household and community level. The Municipal Corporation only collected
the dry waste. Other ULBs like Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation
provides relaxation in property taxes for biogas generation and adoption
of other wet waste management practices at the household level.
Waste segregation at source enhances the
possibilities of efficient implementation of waste to energy projects
which is important considering the increasing raw material resource
crunch for energy generation in India. The rules have specific mention
of deliverables for different levels of government to promote and
implement waste to energy projects starting from forming of a national
policy and strategy for 'Waste to Energy' projects at the ULB level.
Inauguration of India's largest Waste to Energy plant in New Delhi
consuming around 2000 metric tonnes of waste per day is an excellent
example set for promoting Waste to Energy in India.
In addition to the increased efficiency in
the waste management system, implementation of the SWM rules 2016 will
also result in additional benefits including more business and revenue
generation opportunities, minimal land filling, better working health
atmosphere and resource saving. The SWM rules have been further backed
by the publishing of C&D waste management rules 2017. Mixing of C&D
waste in MSW has always been a trouble. It hinders the management of
SWM, occupies space and the usual SWM segregation and processing
facilities could not be used to process this waste, but in fact it
damages the processing itself. To make the work of ULBs simpler, the C&D
waste management has been classified separate from solid waste
management. In addition the 'guidelines for C&D waste management' also
helps ULBs implement the C&D waste management in the country.
Setting national rules and regulations is
just the beginning for better waste management. The policy level changes
need to be incorporated in waste management plans and city development
plan of each city at the earliest. The fact that SWM is an important
point earning part of heavily funded initiatives which selects cities on
a competitive rating system like AMRUT and Smart City programmes is
promoting the implementation of these plans in all developing cities.
The policy influence will trickle down into
each ULB in time to create a mass change in perception of waste
management. The importance of multi-stakeholder responsibility makes the
management of solid waste to be kept under the scanner of many lenses
leading to strict self-monitoring systems. The best practices already
being practiced in the most pro-active ULBs are later supposed to create
a wave of change and promote other ULBs to build similar models of
better waste management systems.
The policy intervention through SWM Rules
2016, is very inclusive covering multiple dimensions of management. All
departments have to take responsibility for waste management including
Department of Fertilizer, Ministry of Agriculture, State Urban & Rural
Departments, District Magistrates, Collectors, Deputy Commissioners,
Village Panchayats and even the CPCB. The policy has left no stone
unturned when it comes to distributing the duty of waste management and
hence ensuing the check of performance of each stakeholder by the other.
Almost a year after the implementation of
the waste management rules 2016 still many ULBs are yet to implement
most of the requirements of the rules. The lack of resources being one
reason and lack of capacity of ULBs to implement such programmes can be
seen as another reason. Especially in the small and medium cities where
further capacity development is an urgent need. Many deliverables have
already surpassed their designated timelines without proper action.
National Plan for Waste to Energy, annual reports from local and state
government bodies, PCBS and other departments, state and local waste
management plans, identification of sites for waste processing,
management plans for existing landfills, formation of state level
advisory bodies being some of the main points.
But making use of the provisions of SWM
rules, a number of isolated initiatives in local governance level and
state level have been initiated which itself is a great success. Change
takes time and over time wonders can be created. With proper promotion
of the best practices and proper handholding between different
stakeholders a 'Swachh Bharat' can be achieved with policy push being
the major driving factor.
Awareness campaigns and workshops need to be
developed and implemented pan India level. CPCB needs to have a
stringent action plan to follow-up the waste management rules and
implement a monitoring system for different levels of governance.
Further funding plans need to be developed to support small and medium
towns to plan and implement solid waste management plans. ■
Achu R Sekhar
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