About 85 per cent of the country’s sewage waste goes into water bodies untreated, the government informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday, pressing for a change of mindset of the people in this regard. Minister Prakash Javadekar said the country has sewage treating capacity of 30 per cent only and half of which is working. Replying to a private member’s bill, he said a staggering 7 crore tonne of waste is generated annually in India, on a average 2 lakh tonne daily, comprising of e-waste, hazardous, biomedical, construction and demolition waste, etc. The ‘Solid Waste Management Bill, 2016’ was moved by Congress member T Subbarami Reddy and Javadekar was replying on behalf of Environment Minister Madhav Dave, who is said to be indisposed.
Highlighting the outcome of measures initiated towards a ‘Clean India’, Javadekar said 1.76 lakh villages have become open defecation free whereas 3.5 crore toilets have been constructed since the NDA government came in 2014.
Talking about the measures taken towards waste disposal and management, he said the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ is providing special and higher funding at the rate of 35 per cent for establishing waste management projects to the state governments.
He said the government is attempting integrated waste management through MNREGA and has approached the National Green Tribunal against local bodies who are not complying with waste management rules.
Pointing out that waste disposal has a cost, he said the mindset of people needs to be changed, since many a time they are unwilling to pay for it. “Our mindset is such that we keep our home and ourselves clean but spread filth outside,” he said. Satisfied with the Minister’s reply, Reddy withdrew the Bill.
Earlier, Reddy pointed towards outdated management system for solid waste and asked the government to provide funds to local bodies for its effective disposal. He also talked about lack of coordination among the central and state pollution control boards for effective management of solid waste. He stressed the need for government’s efforts to create awareness about the cleanliness and encouraging proper solid waste disposal by citizens.
Participating in the discussion, Congress member Kumari Selja said with increasing urbanisation, pollution and waste is also increasing, with polythene causing the maximum waste. “We must stop production and distribution of polythene. The government must come down hard on people manufacturing polythene. We have to encourage alternative technologies,” Selja said.
Her party colleague K C Ramamurthy termed the bill as important, meaningful and timely and said the government will have to perform an anchoring role. He said the Central as well as state pollution control boards need to be empowered to discharge their duties effectively.
V P Nishad (SP) and A K Sahani (JDU) also expressed concern over the poor solid waste management and stressed the need for taking more steps and increasing spending on this particularly on generating energy and producing other products from this. L A Ganesan of the BJP said the education department has to play an important role in creating awareness in schools and colleges.