Waste Management: A challenge and Opportunity for India
Waste Management has become a massive challenge for India. India generates approximately 62 million tonnes of waste per annum as per the Task Force, Planning Commission.
With the increasing rate of urbanization, it is estimated that volume of waste will increase to 436 million tonnes p.a. by 2050. Currently, India is the 6th largest municipal waste generator in the world and is lacking much behind in the management and treatment of Solid Waste.
Among 62 million tonnes of waste, only 43 million tonnes (MT) is collected out of which 11.9 MT is treated and remaining 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites. Solid Waste Management (SWM), as one of the most basic and essential services has emerged as one of the most challenging problem for India.
Major Sources of Solid Waste in India
Municipal and Industrial waste remains the major sources of solid waste followed by Bio-Medical Waste, Plastic and hazardous waste. Data shows that around 1.43 lakh tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste is generated every day in Indian cities and 70% of which is dumped without processing. In fact, Mumbai is 5th most wasteful city in the world. As one of a well-known medical tourism destination worldwide, India generates 550 tons per day of medical waste.
According to All India Plastic Manufacturer Organization, India consumes 13 million tonnes of plastic per year and waste generated accounts for 9 million tonnes per year. Plastic waste is mostly dumped into land creating land and soil pollution problems in the country.
Concerns & Government initiatives
Blaming urbanization and industrialization is a different thing, but the consequences of India producing tonnes of waste is really worrisome and troubling. According to the World Bank, India’s daily waste generation will reach 377,000 tonnes by 2025. To deal with this situation, India needs an effective solid waste management system and lessons from the developed countries like South Korea, having the most sophisticated solid waste management system in the world.
Indeed, Government of India is taking necessary initiatives to promote environmental services in India. New Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016 are encouraging more treatment of waste to energy, segregation waste at source, waste processing and treatment.
With initiatives like Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities Mission, Atal mission for rejuvenation and urban transformation (AMRUT) and National Mission for Sustainable Habitat, government is working to make India clean and Healthy in a sustainable manner.
To promote and attract foreign investments in the waste management sector, 100% foreign direct investment under the automatic route is permitted for urban infrastructure areas including waste management subject to relevant rules and regulations.
Apart from relaxed FDI norms, other fiscal incentives like 100% tax deductions on gains and profits to waste management projects, exemption and concessions on electricity taxes are given by government to promote waste management projects in India.
Opportunities & way forward
Solid Waste Management possess immense challenges for India, at the same time the sector has immense growth potential. With the growing concerns and demand for management of solid waste, Waste Management Industry in India is expected to grow to USD 1 Billion by 2020.
There exists immense potential for investment in the Solid Waste Management sector. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), 62 million tons of current Municipal Waste generated in India will go up to 114 million tons by 2041. Waste to Energy projects has strong growth prospects as India has realized only 2% so far of its WtE potential. Effective Solid waste Management is an important objective of Smart Cities Mission.
A lot of investment opportunities are available for both domestic and international businesses to invest in Smart City mission of India. In short, the strong commitments and policy initiatives taken by the government indicates huge growth opportunities in the sector.