Bhasmasur (Bhasma = Destroy, Asur = Demon) is a demon who hails from Hindu mythology. He was a devotee of Lord Shiva (A Hindu God) and performed great penance to please the Lord so he could ask for a boon. When asked what he wanted, Bhasmasur said that he wanted to have the ability that when he placed his hand on someone’s head, they would be burned to ashes. Lord Shiva thoughtlessly granted him the wish. As soon as he got the power, Bhasmasur tried to test it on Lord Shiva, who had to run to save his life. While running, Lord Shiva appealed to Lord Vishnu (another Hindu God). Lord Vishnu tricked Bhasmasur into placing his hand on his own head, thus causing the demon to burn himself.
This story is interesting as we see so many of its live practical examples everywhere. We can relate this story to Municipal Solid Waste. As a result of consumerism, which has pervaded our lifestyle, we are producing waste of complex composition to the tune of nearly 1, 00,000 tones in urban India with a total 4378 towns and cities including 35 cosmopolitan cities, 393 class-1 towns, 401 class-2 towns and remaining small towns with populations ranging between 20,000 to less than 5000 (as per the 2001 census). The MSW Monster, which is posing a serious threat to the very existence of its own creators in much the same way as Bhasmasur did to Lord Shiva
Lord Vishnu managed to destroy Bhasmasur by handling him intelligently rather than by brute force. Being scientifically and technologically powerful like Lord Shiva’s Supreme Godly power, how we get rid of the Municipal Solid Waste menace and protect ourselves from it, is indeed one of the biggest challenge that we are facing today. We do not have a single successful story about MSWM yet.
Focus on MSW
I quote here from Bio Energy News Vol’1 No.1, 1996,
“Management of urban solid waste is one of the most neglected areas of urban development in India. Landfill sites and garbage dumps are overflowing in most cities attracting rodents and flies which then spread disease”
Among various related events to highlight the MSW issue in the intervening period, there was a seminar on “Urban Waste Management – Options For Future”, which expressed concern over the “environmental challenges posed by the rising waste generation due to expanding population and economic growth” and the need “to have the effective-waste management solutions for a cleaner sustainable environment”.
Subsequently Municipal Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2000 were notified by MoEF, Govt. of India laying down a time schedule for implementing waste management projects by all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) based on compliance criteria. Efforts and recommendations for Integrated Waste Management Technologies such as Waste to Energy projects also found support. The issue has been discussed in many seminars, workshops, and there has been mushroom growth of experts at individual and organizational level and NGOs who took up MSW management projects voluntarily or with the help of financial support from funding agencies.
Considerable noise has been created during this period at increasing rate in sympathy with the increasing amount of waste and nuisance created by it. There appeared to be a direct relationship between the amount of noise made and the weight of waste generated. It is interesting observation, howsoever absurd it might be statistically.
The Preface of the World Bank Report “Improving Management of Urban Solid Waste In India –Overview and Challenges” published by Environment Unit, South Asia Region in May, 1996, says
“Solid Waste management is increasingly becoming a critical issue for municipal issue for municipal authorities. Central and the state governments are supportive of local efforts to improve MSW management but this is essentially a municipal function and it is at this level that challenges have to be addressed.”
The key findings
Adapting the known technologies for development of require infrastructure, with considerable availability of funds
Urgent need of much improved medium term planning at the municipal and state level for development of investment projections and implementation
Captive funding support by the central government and utilization of resources by the implementing bodies as effectively as possible
Private Sector Participation in treatment and disposal of MSW by enhancing the strength of ULBs and ability of engaged contractors to perform.
Addressing critical technological questions on techno-commercial viability of converting waste to resource via composting and waste to energy projects to gain significant practical advantage as an effective solution to MSW management and creation of reliable national data on waste management, covering either the technical or the financial aspects which does not exist were some of the important issues highlighted.
It was approximately this time, an international Seminar on “War on Waste, supported by Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India was held at New Delhi which focused on various issues relevant to MSW management but did not say much except repeating the chorus
Despite Regulatory Initiatives on MSW management by Government of India since 1960s till to day, the net result is back to square one position as the waste was a problem and continues to be a problem. The waste can be seen overflowing the waste bins or bins being empty and the waste gracing either side of the main roads over long stretches of a city and the stray cattle feasting on it. Delhi is a city of contrast where you can see the Metros for rapid mass transport and the waste still being transported on bullock carts even today sprinkling the garbage on the road as it moves at a speed of which even a snail will not be proud of.
In India we follow unique waste disposal methods, for instance, at Badshahpur, Haryana, the waste is carefully placed on the wide road divider as if to exhibit with pride “we are no less than any one on this front.” One is greeted by waste dumps on either side of State and National Highways be it Gurudaspur in Punjab or Moradabad and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, or any other city or town in different states in the country for that matter. It will not be so in future, but we are still in the planning stage. There are many grey areas to be taken care of and we have a long way to go.
There are several missing links and many loose ends both in terms of management, technology and professional skill. The solutions need thorough understanding ,for example, deployment of competent persons qualified in solid waste management (real hard taskmasters and not people who turn up with a handkerchief to cover their nose to keep the stink away), application of efficient combination of waste handling equipments in cost effective manner and streamlining of the handling of waste at various stages throughout its journey from source of generation to ultimate safe disposal site, without intermediate dumping and accumulation of waste for days together. A flawless continuous flow sheet of MSW has to be developed. Matching financial support, discipline and attitudinal change in all concerned will obviously be the key for effective and successful MSW management in India
Chillibreeze's disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article.
Out of 5 “chilies”, our editorial team gave this article...
—About our writer:
R.C.Vidyarthi says, "Basically a mining geologist-turned environmentalist-turned-social worker and took to writing to give expression to my thoughts, experiences and observations for benefit of others. Of course, I do this in an innovative way rather than being conventional."
>> Read more articles written by Chillibreeze writers: