Considering the present scenario of waste management in India, where most of the waste is dumped without treatment, it would require an estimated 88 square kilometer (sq. km.) of precious land to be brought under waste disposal through landfilling by 2050, which is equivalent to the size of area under administration of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), noted a recent joint study by ASSOCHAM and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).
“This will eventually render the land unfit for any other use for as long as a half century before it can be stabilised for other uses,” said the report titled, ‘Waste Management in India: Shifting Gears,’ jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and global consulting firm PwC .
As such it is imperative to re-look into present systems of waste management in the country, suggested the ASSOCHAM-PwC study.
As per a previous estimate, by 2050 about 50 per cent of India’s population will be living in urban areas, and the volume of waste generation will grow by five per cent per year.
Accordingly, the expected waste quantity we are looking at for the year 2021, 2031, and 2050 are 101 million metric tonnes (MMT) per year, 164 MMT, and 436 MMT per year respectively.
The report noted that waste generation of Class I cities (with population between 0.1 million to five million) in India has been estimated to be around 80 per cent of country’s total waste generation.
Highlighting the concerns about per capita waste generation rate, the study said that presently it is about 300-400 gm/capita for medium cities and 400-600 gm/capita for large cities.
“This is going to increase with the present trend of urbanisation and consumption patterns.”
On the need for proper waste treatment to generate environmental and monetary benefits, the study said that poorly managed waste has direct implications to urban environment, leading to air, water, and soil pollution, together with long-term health impacts, while it has indirect implications to our economy and growth prospects.
However, improper planning for waste management, complex institutional setup, constraints in capacity for waste management using modern techniques and best practices, and limited funds with urban local bodies (ULBs) are some of the reasons waste management in India has become an area of concern.
It also said that though private sector can play a critical and greater role in waste management in India, there are a various issues and bottlenecks on different fronts that have made it challenging to successfully implement projects – policy and regulatory, financing, project conceptualisation and structuring, technology and capacity.
The ASSOCHAM-PwC study has recommended the government to accord industry status to waste management sector to provide it necessary boost and regulatory adherence with dedicated monitoring and compliance cell.