ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Solutions on Paper

The new solid waste rules harp on contested technologies.

In the first week of April, the union government amended a 16- year-old rule that deals with a critical aspect of urban governance. It replaced the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 with a new set of rules, the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016. The new rules should be seen in tandem with the plastic waste management rules, e-waste, biomedical waste, hazardous and construction and demolition waste management rules—all of which were notified within a few days of each other.

Solid waste management is a serious problem in the country. Urbanisation, changing lifestyles and increase in consumerism means that we generate more and more waste. Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, indicated the magnitude of the problem while introducing the bill. The country generates 62 million tonnes of waste annually, he said. To put things in perspective this is a little less than double the amount of MSW the country generated when the last rules were put in place. Financial constraints, institutional weakness, improper choice of technology, burgeoning urbanisation and public apathy have made the situation worse. In some states, the practice of dumping waste on the outskirts of cities and towns has created serious environmental problem with accompanying public health concerns.

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