GS 2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS 3 Environment

In recent years municipal solid waste (MSW) management has been one of the most environmental concerns for all urban areas of India. India’s North East is perhaps the greenest region in India, abundant with fresh water. The pristine nature of the region has been severely affected due to improper waste management.

  • The world’s largest, fully habituated river island Majuli is situated in the middle of Brahamputra, with the Kaziranga National Park touching Jorhat and Nagaon.

         Yet, none of these places have any waste management system or a waste water treatment    plant.

Waste management system in North-East:ISSUES

  • The waste accumulates in rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands. The situation is conspicuous in almost in all cities and towns in the North East, except in a few villages such as Mawlynnong and Rangsapara.
  • This has led to serious public health concerns. At least 85 per cent of the waste in the North East is unceremoniously dumped, without processing and treatment in the Ganga, Yamuna and Brahmaputra.
  • The waste is burned in environmentally sensitive areas including river banks, wetlands, forests and water bodies.
  • Several dumpsites in India’s north-eastern states are located at wetlands or river banks.
  • municipalities in the North East lack the technical know-how.
  • There is also a lack of political commitment from the local elected representatives.
  • Some staff members lack adequate training and exposure.

—-Most trainings are organised for commissioners and engineers but seldom for collection staff or sanitary supervisors.

Case study: cleanest cities of India:

  1. Surat, Suryapet, Namakkal, Nagpur, Latur, Indore, Warangal, Saluru, Mysuru, Bobbili, Coimbatore and Alappuzha made their cities cleaner without a lot of additional resources.
  2. It was and is sheer power of what called as commitment, honesty, will power, passion for cleanliness and high moral values of the commissioners and mayors.

Is there a link between cleaner cities and corruption-free cities?

Corruption vs cleaner cities:

  1. Look at the top 10 cleanest cities of the world: Calgary, Honululu, Helsinki, Kobe, Oslo, Adelaide, Brisbane, Wellington etc. Now look at their corruption index.
  2. They figure in the top 20 least corrupt cities of the world. There is a close link between good waste governance and cleaner cities; India in general is no exception to it.
  3. Assam needs to reform its municipal governance along with building capacity of the lower staff of the municipal systems.
  4. The Swachh Bharat Mission will not succeed as long as we do not see commitment from the administration.
  5. Corruption in public services is not only the worst form of disease, but also has a direct impact on the lives of all citizens who deserve better living conditions.

Way Forward:

  • For the successful running, the plant needs to ease the challenge of handling inorganic waste, the efficiency of organic waste processing/ composting plants.
  • With the increasing waste generation in the coming years, there is a need for more such plants which are environment friendly.
  • It is important that Bio-mining and Bio-remediation is made compulsory for areas wherever it can be applied.
  • The bigger the state of art technology is, the higher the chances of collection and processing failure for countries.—- compactors, tippers, waste incineration, pyrolysis, plasma arc plants because all of them require big investment that translates into bigger commissions..
  • The solution for India lies in strengthening the existing system and integrating the informal sector in collection and recycling.
  • The informal sector can remove more than 60 per cent of inorganic waste from dumpsites with little investment and save more energy through recycling.
  • It is important that waste management is decentralized. Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh and Vellore present a very good example of the same where the waste was collected in a decentralized manner, composted naturally and is planted.
  • If the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 are implemented in letter and spirit, more than 12,000 jobs can be created in these towns.——If extended to all villages, nearly 40,000 jobs related to door-to-door collection, composting and recycling value chain can be created. This will help improve the wellbeing of nearly 50 million people.


Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution of India makes it a fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.
Developed countries like Singapore, Switzerland, the United States are not clean because its population is educated or disciplined, it is the fear of laws that makes it work.
It is important that people must learn to pay for services. The provision for payment for waste services are there in the laws but are not enforced because of objections by politicians. Surveys suggest that people will pay segregate their waste if there are systems in place.
They are reluctant to object to service fee because municipalities have never provided that kind of efficient and quality services, that one can go and ask for service fee for SWM.
If citizens want good services and improving their own wellbeing, they must learn to pay

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