The Delhi urban local bodies proposal to charge households and commercial establishments for lifting garbage from doorstep is something that should be given serious thought. Shifting to a user-pays modelcould mean significant defraying of costs incurred by the urban local bodies, which otherwise are left dependent on allocations from the state government in the absence of any meaningful tax collection. As per the 2015-16 annual report of the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi generates over 9,600 tonnes of solid waste per day, of which 8,300 is collected by the five municipal bodies—the East, North and South Delhi Municipal Corporations, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Cantonment Board. The SDMC, the NDMC and EDMC spend close to Rs 1,500 crore on solid waste management. Charging households between Rs 50-200 a month (depending on locality) and commercial establishments upwards of Rs 2,000 can defray some of this cost.
As per the Solid Waste Management Rules notified by the Union government in 2016, generators must pay a fee as per the bye-laws of the local authority. Of course, given how private waste collectors are part of the solid waste management value-chain in the city—usually, the municipal corporations collect the garbage from dhalaos or semi-covered disposal sites while door-to-door collection is done by mainly untrained, unorganised garbage collectors who are paid by the households or resident welfare associations—the sum charged must factor this.
The ULBs in the national capital territory could save significant amounts if they are able to implement a strict waste segregation—preferably at source—policy. Nearly 4,500 tonnes of unsegregated waste is sent to land-fills while, as per an analysis by Chintan, an NGO working on solid waste management, segregation could bring down this down to 1,000 tonnes per day—imagine the transportation and man-power costs saved. The Delhi bodies could take a cue from Bengaluru, which fines housing societies and households for not segregating waste. The frequent fires in the land-fills and adjoining area—endangering life and the environment—have a lot to do with the inflammable gases generated from the wet organic waste dumped there in the absence of segregation.