- Six solid waste management plants will come up in Himachal Pradesh
- The state has been dependent only on one waste management plant in Shimla
- The High Court and NGT rebuked the state for inadequate waste management
The scenic beauty of Himachal Pradesh notwithstanding, the state has been grappling with garbage disposal problems for many years. Nearly 304 metric tonnes of solid waste is generated in the state daily, of which 51 metric tonnes is generated in the state capital of Shimla alone. Himachal Pradesh is frequented by tourists from all over the world, resulting in even more waste generation in the state, apart from what is generated usually from the residents. The state’s only solid waste management plant in Shimla is unable to cope with the state’s entire waste output. So the state’s decision last month, to set up six waste management plants across the state is a significant one.
The state’s poor performance in waste management was brought to the fore by two significant court orders. The High Court of Himachal Pradesh in the last week of November passed an order, directing the state government as well as the municipal authorities to look seriously into the matter of waste management in the state. The National Green Tribunal also rebuked the state government on November 1, asking it to ensure that waste was not dumped openly anywhere in the state.
Lack of solid waste treatment plants in the state was the reason why Himachal Pradesh’s waste scenario took such a turn for the worst. We receive 170 million domestic tourists every year and over 100 million foreign tourists annually. One solid waste treatment plant to manage all the waste in the state was never going to be enough. The addition of more solid waste treatment plants will ensure waste treatment takes place on a larger scale in the state, said Tarun Kapoor, Chairman, Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
Baddi, Mandi, Kangra, Chamba, Sirmaur and Hamirpur have been chosen as the sites where the plants will be set up. The plants are estimated to cost Rs 50 crore each and will be set up under the private public partnership (PPP) model, with costs being split between the state government and private organisations. Tenders will be floated by April 2018 for private organisations to start bidding.
The approach taken by the state government is that of building small waste treatment plants instead of large ones so that they take less space and time to be completed. The location of the potential plants have been decided in such a manner that they can cater to the waste treatment requirements of a large area. A group of technical consultants has already been appointed by the state government, who will be in charge of identifying the suitability of the chosen spots, oversee the technical challenges that may crop up during construction and ensure that the construction process is over within a short time period.
The technical consultants will oversee the construction and check whether each plant is capable of handling the waste woes of its surrounding area. By doing so, each plant will address a large area around it and multiple areas’ waste problems will be addressed, said Tarun Kapoor, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment, Science & Technology, Government of Himachal Pradesh.
While Himachal Pradesh’s dependency on a sole solid waste management plant has resulted in the state devoid of proper waste management for many years, the scenario is poised to change soon. The state pollution control board is hopeful that the upcoming waste management plants will improve the waste management scenario in the state. The state will also be able to utilise its waste and turn it into compost or biogas for further usage
Solid waste management in India today faces an uphill task of managing the huge amount of waste generated daily in the country. Waste generated is estimated by the Central Pollution Control Board to be around 63 million tonnes annually, of which only 43 million tonnes is collected and an even lesser amount of 11.9 million tonnes treated. So there is a large disparity between waste generated and treated in India. Lack of modern and scientific waste treatment plants and hardly any segregation waste at source, has resulted in this disparity and no state of India is exempt from the mounting waste problem.