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[box type=”shadow” ]“Sameer-RegeUnderstanding the hurdles in developing integrated waste management models for Smart Cities and troubleshooting them are essential for their retrofitting and redevelopment,” says Sameer Rege, CEO, Mailhem Ikos Environment Pvt Ltd.[/box]

Waste generation will increase with growing population and economic development. Improperly managed solid waste pose a high risk to human health and the environment. Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) is a comprehensive mix of waste recycling, treatment with scientific disposal technologies. An effective ISWM system will consider efficient collection & transportation, recycling, treatment and managing solid waste in ways that most effectively protects our environment and generate green energy from solid waste. 

Developing an ISWM model needs substantial planning in designing or improving a waste management system. Waste management planners must take into consideration institutional, social, economic, technical, and environmental factors. These factors will vary over cities to cities and towns to towns. Based on these factors, each urban or rural area may select the combination of waste management activities to best suits its needs. Integrated solid waste management model will involves both shortand long-term requirement and judicious mix of technologies will help meet the goals.

Niti Aayog (formerly Planning Commission), in its recent report, has estimated 68 million tonnes of MSW generated annually by 377 million people in urban areas; more than 80% is currently disposed off indiscriminately at dump yards in an unhygienic manner by the urban local bodies leading to human health and environmental degradation. Major challenge is ‘segregation of waste at source of generation’ is highly neglected area in India. The government due to its style of functioning may not be in a best position to implement and develop Integrated Waste Management System. Government has to play an important role in developing and enforcing waste management standards, providing funding, and managing day-to-day operations of solid waste management activities. Other major challenge foreseen is lack of awareness and knowledge of Urban Local Bodies management staff. 

Each level of government should have responsibility in the ISWM plan to help monitor and enforce set standards and practices. Local governments should play the primary role of managing solid waste activities on a daily basis. All levels of government should provide funding for solid waste management activities based on criteria set in the policies. Two primary costs must be considered in any waste management system: initial capital costs (to purchase equipment or construct new facilities) and ongoing operations and maintenance costs. These costs can be funded in a number of ways including private equity, government loans, local taxes, or user fees.

Planners at institutional level must establish a national policy and laws on solid waste management standards and practices. They should identify the roles and responsibilities of each level of government and ensure the local government has the authority and resources to implement an ISWM plan. The best possible way is exploring Public Private Partnership (PPPs) Model. However, the experience with PPPs model has not been fruitful so far in India. For the private sector to make this model attractive, it requires the government’s support and viability gap funding to tackle the challenge in developing integrated model. At social level, citizen participation should be encouraged in all phases of waste management planning to help increase community awareness and acceptance. The capital investment requirements for initial infrastructure and long-term operating and maintenance costs associated with the various waste management activities should be considered. Planners must consider geological factors, distance for transportation, collection infrastructure, project waste generation, area requirement for disposal as well as what equipments and training are necessary to perform the task of waste management. Lastly, the planners should also establish procedures to monitor and verify compliances and standards to reduce any risk from these activities to human health and environment.

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