The recently concluded cleanliness survey, 2017 (Swachh Survekshan) was one of the biggest exercise that was undertook by the government to promote cleanliness and sanitation in the cities. The survey which covered 500 cities, was topped by the Indore, a city from central India. Along with this, the 2016 rules have also proved to be the landmark statutory framework dealing with waste management.
SWM rules, 2016 are one of the best example of an improved, modernized and strengthened legislation on such issue of immense public importance. The new rules shifted from earlier state-based approach to right-based approach. The rules have also become duty-oriented which was not the case earlier. These rules are the perfect example of how the legislation must address the modern day issues of governance and environment.
Solid waste management is a term that is used to refer to the process of collecting and treating and disposing of solid waste that is discarded because it has served its purpose or is no longer useful.
It has become one of the major environment problems in various cities throughout India and can have a disastrous impact, creating problems to health of people and degrading the ecology. People throw solid waste in low-lying areas without taking any precautions or operational controls and therefore it becomes one of the major environmental challenges.
One of the finest examples would be the heavy outbreak of plague in the year 1994 which was due to the extremely poor, and at times due to the non- existent sanitation and garbage collection and disposal practices, employed by the local authorities. And yet, the most intriguing aspect here is that the centre has the ultimate power, with the state governments having the delegated power and authority, under section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986.
This puts forth a constitutional duty and obligation on the centre and state, to prevent environment degradation and to ensure that the urban environment and the surrounding areas are preserved, protected and improved within their territory.
Various states have failed to collect and dispose of entire waste as commanded under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2000 (hereinafter referred to as the 2000 Rules). The 2000 Rules talk about the set of norms that need to be followed for handling any type of Solid wasted by the centre and the state. Due to the failure, after 16 years a need to revise the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2000 was felt, thus paving way for the Solid waste Management Rules, 2016.
The new rules are now applicable beyond municipal areas and extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, SEZ, airbase, port and harbour, defence establishments, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.
It has already been observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that the capital of India is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The generation of solid wastes differs from state to state and city to city. According to the statistics the urban areas generate a gigantic 1, 43,449 metric tons of solid municipal waste, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) 2014-15, and these figures increase every day with an increase in population therefore, management of municipal solid waste has become one of the major functions of all Urban Local Bodies.
The recent Swachh Survekshan 2017 sanitation survey was done across 500 cities to check the impact of Swachh Bharat Mission. The performance of every city, evaluated five parameters which also included Municipal Solid Waste – sweeping, collection and transportation and Municipal Solid Waste – Processing and disposal of solid waste. Many cities have shown improvement in managing their Solid wastes. Various awareness programs have now made the citizens aware and PIL’s are filed for taking urgent steps to remove the practices presently adopted for collection, storage, transportation, disposal, treatment and recycling of Municipal Solid waste.
The 2016 Rules, segregates wastes into three streams – wet (biodegradable), Dry (plastic, paper) and domestic hazardous wastes. The collection of these wastes is done in a formal system by state governments and its impacts will be seen in the near future. A bare reading of the 2002 Rules shows that there are no punitive consequences for violation or non-compliance of these rules and therefore, the very purpose was defeated and there was no serious implementation of these rules.
Now, any entity that generates Solid Wastes of any kind has to pay a ‘user fee’ to the waste collector and also pay a ‘spot fine’ for littering. The brand owners of products manufacturing sanitary waste also have to manufacture suitable wrapping material to dispose of the waste by end consumers. Not only the local bodies will take the initiative to segregate the waste but the hotels, restaurants, associations, event organizers etc. are responsible for sorting the waste. Bio degradable wastes are to be processed treated and disposed of through appropriate methods.
Rules have been changed in accordance with the need of the society, which is being monitored by the Central Monitoring committee to make sure that the State is able to handle its Municipal Solid Waste properly.
The government has modified the rules according to the needs of the urban society. Although the state and authorities are responsible for the collection, disposal, and maintenance of the solid wastes, the entire burden should not be shifted onto them.
The duty of every citizen is to ensure that the waste is handled properly and no damage is caused to the environment. The initiative taken by the authorities will not be seen as a drastic measure, but rather as a permanent solution to the problem of solid waste management.
Hence, it can be concluded that the 2016 rules comes with an iron hand, thereby eradicating the need for any form of unnecessary aggression towards the Centre or the State to take any bold steps.
Author: Madhu Khatri
You can reach author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
She is pursuing law from New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Pune. She is also a content writer with TA.
Hari-Kamal Foundation for Policy Research is an independent and non-partisan research think-tank working in the areas of environment, energy, politics and governance. The foundation has been pursuing a research project on solid waste management. This article is produced as a part of the same study.
 According to Britannica (Britannica online encyclopedia, Visited on 16th July 2017)
 http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=138591 (Visited on 16th July 2017)
 B.L Wadhera v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) 179 of 1999, 19th April 2002
 http://moud.gov.in/pdf/584e4b8b1e3da584e4a5c4a867Book2.pdf (Visited on 16th July 2017)