The Centre’s process of selecting clean cities needed to be changed, a green body said today, claiming that the three toppers in its latest cleanliness survey had adopted environmentally “unsustainable” waste management practices. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said there was an “urgent need” to change the methodology of the ‘Swachh Survekshan’ survey to encourage sustainable practices such as segregation of waste at source and recycle-and-reuse.
It asserted that the top three cities as per Swachh Survekshan 2017 — Indore, Bhopal and Vishakhapatnam — were focussing on collecting unsegregated waste and transporting it to landfills with a minimal amount of waste being processed.
Indore in Madhya Pradesh was declared the cleanest city in the country by the survey. Bhopal, also in Madhya Pradesh, occupied the second slot among 434 cities, followed by Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Surat in Gujarat.
“An analysis of the results of Swachh Survekshan, 2017 shows that the top three cities — Indore, Bhopal and Vishakhapatnam — have adopted environmentally unsustainable practices for waste management.
“The cities are focussing on collecting unsegregated waste and transporting it to landfills, with a very minimal quantum of waste being processed. All three cities are dumping unsegregated waste. These cities are, therefore, not meeting the requirements of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules, 2016,” the CSE said in a statement.
It added that the MSW Rules clearly stated that the waste needed to be segregated into three categories at the household level — wet, dry and domestic hazardous waste.
Further, it said the rules stipulated that the waste-to- energy plants should not burn mixed waste and should dump the disposal at landfills as the “least preferred option”.
“It is clear that the states that have pushed for a centralised approach towards waste management — Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh — have been given high rankings in the Survekshan results,” the CSE said.
Of the top 50 cities in the survey report, 31 belong to these three states. All of these 31 cities are pushing for a cluster-based waste management approach, using waste-to-energy plants and landfills for processing and dumping of waste.
As per the CSE, in contrast, cities working towards household-level segregation and decentralised recycling and reuse of waste have been given poor rankings in the survey.
Alappuzha in Kerala, which has a decentralised model of waste management, ranked 380 and Panjim in Goa, which has adopted a five-point segregation policy, ranked 90, it said.
“Both Alappuzha and Panjim have no landfill sites or waste-to-energy incineration plants. Most of their waste is converted into compost or biogas. The inorganic waste such as plastic, glass, metals, papers etc. is sent for recycling.
“These cities make money from solid waste, rather than spending crores in collecting and transporting the waste to landfills. Still, Swachh Survekshan 2017 has not given any recognition to them,” said Swati Sambyal, Programme Manager, Waste Management Team, CSE.
CSE’s analysis shows that Indore is currently struggling to manage its waste and Surat, which ranks fourth in the Swachh Survekshan survey, is dumping 1,600 metric tonnes per day (MTD) of its unsegregated garbage at a landfill, that too without processing it.
“The Survekshan methodology needs a serious relook as it is rewarding cities with environmentally unsustainable practices and discouraging cities working towards behaviour change and local solutions,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE.
The CSE said next year, the ambit of the Survekshan survey would widen to include 4,041 towns and cities.
“The methodology of assessment needs to have more points for segregation and a decentralised treatment. Solid waste management should move towards behaviour change and local solutions. Only then can we achieve the Clean India goal,” said Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE.