New Delhi: On February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present her second union budget for the financial year 2020-21 in Parliament. Last year, the finance minister in her maiden budget had said that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 would shift focus from toilet construction to waste management, and will focus on sustainable solid waste management in every village. She had said that apart from sustained effort towards behavioural change, the government will harness the latest technologies to transform waste into energy and undertake sustainable solid waste management.
Last year, Rs. 9,994 crores was allocated for Swachh Bharat Mission Rural and Rs 2,650 crores for Swachh Bharat Mission Urban, with a total allocation for the campaign of Rs. 12,644 crores. This was around Rs. 5,199 crores lower than the budget allocated in 2018-19. In FY18-19, the mission got an outlay of Rs. 17,843 crores.
Expectations from Budget 2020
Talking to NDTV about the expectations from the upcoming budget and highlighting why the government really should focus on waste management, Swati Singh Sambyal, Programme Manager, Environmental Governance (Waste Management), Centre for Science and Environment said,
Budget 2020 should have enough allocation for government’s Swachh Bharat Mission, considering last year’s allocation observed a 31 per cent decline. Presently, cities in India have worked on segregation (marginally) but processing and disposal still remain a challenge. Keeping enough funds for sanitation and waste management for states would be pertinent. Also, I am hoping in order to encourage a circular economy, recycling and reuse of resources, the tax slabs for virgin material should be kept much higher as compared to waste/recycled material.
On the other hand, Nalini Shekar, a social activist and a founder of Hasiru Dala (Green Force), a non-profit organisation that is helping marginalised waste pickers in Bengaluru highlighted the importance of building infrastructure for effective waste management. She added,
We have seen enough campaigns for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and waste management. This year, the Budget 2020 should really focus on setting up decentralised infrastructures and involve waste pickers and sanitation workers in the chain of effective waste management practices by the country.
Chitra Mukherjee, Head, Advocacy and Policy, Chintan, an environmental NGO that works for sustainability, also underlined the importance of decentralised waste management infrastructures and said,
The government in this year’s budget should give importance on incentives for composting, subsidies to sustainable technologies and promotion of decentralised waste management by setting up colony-level dry waste collection centres for plastics and e-waste. Moreover, should focus on capacity building of informal waste workers for livelihoods and involve them in the waste management chain. On the other hand, awareness campaigns around segregation and around dangers of single-use plastics usage should continue and the government should aim to involve more and more citizens.
Dr Amiya Kumar Sahu, Founder and President of National Solid Waste Association of India, a non-profit organisation working in the field of Solid Waste Management in India, shared his expectations from Budget 2020 and said,
The government should include waste management professional courses for a better understanding of the subject – be it for the municipal authorities or the general public. If there will be better education and understanding of the subject, the job will be done effectively. Secondly, till date, solid waste management rules 2016 have not been implemented properly because it misses accountability and there are also no penalties for not following the rule. This years’ budget should focus implementation of waste management rules properly by forming surveillance committees thereby ensuring effective waste management.
Recently, LocalCircles, India’s community social media platform, before this year’s Budget, conducted a survey to know people’s expectations from this year’s budget. Commenting on the findings, Sachin Taparia, Founder & Chairman, LocalCircles said,
We have received more than 80,000 responses from across the country, of which, 30 per cent people said the government should give top allocation in budget 2020 to the environment which includes air, water, waste management. Garbage Burning and waste issues have been a subject of discussion on LocalCircles for the last several years. We are hoping this year the government take these issues in focus and announces a green budget.
Apart from solid waste management experts also point out to the need for a policy for a waste of a different kind – old or scrapped vehicles. According to an estimate by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), GIZ, a German development agency, and Chintan, in 2015, there were 8.7 million obsolete vehicles. This figure will increase 2.5 times to 22 million by 2025, given that the average lifespan of a vehicle is 10-15 years, claims the study done on India’s automobile sector by these agencies. The study also explained why scarp vehicles lying in the junkyards or by the roads are a problem. It said that non-functional switches, brake shoes and rubber parts are usually thrown away carelessly — releasing asbestos, mercury and several other pollutants. Whereas, liquids like coolant, brake and hydraulic fluids are just drained on the ground. These contaminate groundwater and the air.
Talking about the scrapped vehicles waste in India, Naveen Soni, Senior Vice President, Sales and Services, Toyota Kirloskar Motor added,
We would like this year’s budget to focus on scrappage policy for all old vehicles so that automobile waste can be managed effectively, the draft policy for which has been shared by the government but has still not come out. The auto industry is willing to share its portion towards realising such scrappage policy, which will eventually have a more sustainable impact on the environment.
India still generates approximately 62 million tonnes of trash a year, says the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Of which, only 43 million tonnes of the waste gets collected, whereas, a mere 11.9 million tonnes is treated and 31 million tonnes is straight away dumped in landfill sites. Because of the ineffective way India is managing its waste today all are major landfills in cities such as Ghazipur, Deonar or Dhapa are exhausted and overburdened by the daily disposal of waste. Environmentalists and experts are really hoping that this time around the budget will look into the concerns of waste management and will roll out a greener budget for India.