When it comes to managing huge piles of waste, Maharashtra, India’s most urbanised state, has a mammoth task at hand. With over 23,449 tonne of solid waste generated daily in urban areas, it is the country’s biggest waste generator.
But Maharashtra’s towns and cities now appear to be turning the corner in solving the solid waste problem. According to latest data, 210 out of the 260 urban bodies in the state have now begun segregating waste at source. Officials said that about 28 per cent — 6,565 tonne per day of urban solid waste is now being segregated at source. Of this about 5,627 tonne is wet waste generated in 139 cities, which is now being recycled through composting techniques.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reviewed the implementation of the plan to overhaul solid waste management practices in the state. Earlier in May this year, his government had unveiled an initiative which incentivised waste management in municipalities.
During the review meeting, he was also informed that 27 urban bodies from Maharashtra would now be able to sell the organic compost made from processing of wet waste. The compost produced by these cities have now been certified by the Agriculture department as fit for use under norms, official said. Another 23 cities have applied for the same certification, Fadnavis was told. “We are branding the initiative as the second green revolution,” said Manisha Patankar-Mhaiskar, Principal Secretary, Urban Development. Besides composting, some bigger cities have also taken up waste-to-energy management practices, she said.
Mumbai, the country’s commercial capital, is the biggest solid waste generator in the state. But the Mumbai municipality, too, has now made it mandatory for bulk generators to recycle wet waste after segregation. Even as Mumbai municipality officials agreed that not all the bulk generators have made the transition, it said that the initiative has resulted in a drop in the daily waste dumped at dumping sites – from 9,083 tonne per day to around 7,500 tonne. Pune (1,700 tonne), Nagpur (1,100 tonne),Thane (800 tonne), Pimpri-Chinchwad (800 tonne), and Navi Mumbai (726 tonne) are the other major waste generating cities.
In a bid to make municipalities switch to efficient waste management ways, the Fadnavis government has adopted the “carrot and stick” approach, which appears to be working. While it has been incentivising innovations in the sector, urban bodies found lacking in the implementation have been cautioned that the grants due to them would be blocked.
Towns and cities of Maharashtra had not fared well in the Centre’s ranking exercise (Swachh Survekshan) on the level of cleanliness in urban belts in 2017. With field surveys for this year’s competition commencing from January 4 onwards, senior officials are banking on the betterment in waste management practices and the measures taken to render areas open defecation free would yield better results this time.
On Thursday, the chief minister also launched a municipal ward-level cleanliness competition among cities in the run-up to the Centre’s assessment. “The whole idea is to ensure municipalities are better prepared this time,” an official said. Continuing with his “carrot and stick” approach, Fadnavis also announced that cities faring well in the Centre’s ranking would be rewarded, while those found to be wanting stood to lose release of grants.