Urban India currently produces about 36.5 million tones of waste and this figure is expected to touch an astounding 300 million tones given the current spate in the consumption patterns and materialistic lifestyles of the ‘haves’ which has accelerated the per capita consumption and consequently waste generation. From a current per capita rate of 490 grams this is expected to touch 945 grams by 2047. However the waste collection and disposal mechanisms of the Urban Local Bodies continue to be equally alarming. Given the current state of affairs it is estimated that only between 30-60% (Rouse, 2006) of the municipal solid waste generated in Indian cities is actually collected and disposed off by the urban local bodies. Another study (Medina,et.al, 2002) mentions a collection rate of just 50% in urban India. Out of this collected waste only a fraction i.e, 7% is recycled through composting or WTE (waste to energy) measures and the rest 93% inclusive of the recyclable dry waste find their way into the dumping sites where they are then rummaged by the ragpickers. Thus though the informal sector operations comprising the ragpickers and other informal actors are crucial to the waste management scene in Urban India yet the services provided by this sector is poorly understood or acknowledged and it ends up being projected as illegal and illicit and being looked down upon. Given the context the research paper aims to highlight the other dimension of waste collection and management in urban India which is the informal waste collection.
The research study follows the following methodological steps;
a) Review of literature on solid waste management with focus on urban India’s Current waste management scenario and the role of the informal sector in solid waste management in Indian Cities.
b) The case Study of Amritsar city is carried out to examine the current practices by the formal sector and identify issues and discrepancies in its operations.
c) The role of informal sector in solid waste management in Amritsar city is examined with the view to identify the issues as well as the possibilities of involving the informal sector formally into the waste management operations in the city.
d) A model for solid waste management for the city is suggested that seeks to integrate both the formal and informal operations in the city towards achieving the objective of zero waste conditions in the city.
Summary of Findings
Based on the study it can be summarized that informal refuse collectors indeed render clear economic and environmental benefits to society, and their activities should be improved and supported. Based upon the model suggested for effective solid waste management in Amritsar city it is opined that this model be tested for its application by practically applying it in the city. The adoption of a waste management model of the nature as above mentioned has the potential to create jobs, reduce poverty, extend the collection and improve final disposal of wastes, minimize public investment on personnel, equipment and facilities, reduce pollution and risks to human health and the environment.
Solidwaste Informal Ragpickers Amritsar Integrate
Senior Lecturer, Guru Ramdas School of Planning
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India