"Challenges and Opportunities towards Management of Solid Wastes in Indian Cities: Beyond the Rhetoric of Convenience”

M. Satish Kumar, Ruchira Ghosh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Sustainable solid waste management presents a global challenge, and particularly for a populous country like India with structural resource constraints within a rapidly globalising economy. At the same time, it is important to consider 2030 agenda with incremental targets ranging from Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan or Clean India Campaign (2014) to the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana or Health Insurance for All (2019), to the more recent Banega Swasth India or Healthy India campaign (2019). In all the fundamental shift as seen here is from Swachh (Cleanliness) to Swasth (Health). These have direct implications towards management of solid wastes in a rapidly transforming India where the shift to urban settlements have gained pace (Kumar, 2019). The chapter discusses how urban transformation was manifested by the intrinsic changes to urban governance based on the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (1992) or Panchayati Raj and Nagarpalika Act, respectively. The 74th Act gave constitutional status to the municipalities and made provisions for direct elections into all the three self-government bodies in urban areas. Thus Urban Local bodies had specified functions and responsibilities. These included urban planning, regulation of urban land use, infrastructure enhancement, including civil constructions of roads, bridges and housing, provision of water, solid waste management, including sanitation and public health care. Here too lack of adequate and appropriate financing options remain a key bottleneck (Meloche & Vaillancourt, 2015). There is a lack of capacity among the urban local bodies to respond to challenges posed by India’s urban transformation, especially among mega cities, let alone among small and medium towns and slum clusters. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a national mission for urban renewal and rejuvenation (2005-14) reiterated the lack of capacity at the urban local government. This is in spite of the successful financial devolution and implementation of the General Sales Tax (GST) by the NDA-1 government. The woeful state of solid waste management in Indian urban centres creates major health challenges. There is little emphasis on waste reduction and or segregation at source. There is no systematic engagement with both unsegregated and segregated wastes at the community level. India generates 62 million tonnes of waste (mixed waste containing both recyclable and non-recyclable waste) every year, with an average annual growth rate of 4% (Swaminathan, 2018; PIB 2016). Of the total waste collected only 20 percent is processed and the remaining 80 percent is dumped in landfill sites (Shrivastava, 2019). In other words 30 million MT of ‘highly polluting’ unprocessed solid waste is dumped in landfill sites in India. This chapter traces the transitions in the Indian urban structure and its close association with solid waste management. In doing so it seeks to highlight the challenges and opportunities afforded by the informal waste management sector, with a special focus on women, thereby addressing concerns of health, hygiene and livelihood security among the marginalised. Keywords: Solid Waste Management, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Unorganised- Informal sector; Women, Livelihood; Security, Recycle, Reuse, Reduce
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResource Management, Sustainable Development and Governance: Indian and International Perspectives
Subtitle of host publicationSustainable Development Goal Series
EditorsBaleshwar Thakur, Srikumar Chattopadhyay, Rajiv Thakur, Rajesh K Abhay
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-85839-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-85838-4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2021


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