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Challenges Of Solid Waste Management In Imphal

By : DR.Konthoujam Khelchandra

All of us are aware that in the SawchhSurvekshan Award, 2018 organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), GOI under the ageisof Swachh Bharat Mission, Kakchingbagged the award for the Cleanest City in Northeast Zone. Kakching continues to throng the limelight again with theCleanest City award in the Northeast Zone for SawchhSurvekshan, 2019 along with Thoubal and Wangjing-Lamding in the population above 1 lakh category; WhereasMayang Imphal, Lamlai and Ningthoukhong won first, third and fourth positions respectively in the category of town with population below 25,000. It is more heartening to know that 14 towns from Manipur have been listed in the first top 20 ranking in the SawchhSurvekshan, 2019 in the Northeast region. The Director of MAHUD along with the concerned Officers must have been really elated to receive these awards from the President of India on March 6, 2019 at the glittering Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.  Being a Manipuri working outside the state, I really felt delighted to hear this particular news item. At the same time, it further makes me feel that all these Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayat must be adopting an exemplary well-developed operational solid waste management systemequally supported by dedicated efficient staffs.
We have seen a very promising picture about proper waste management system that led to receiving all the prestigious Cleanliness Awards in different categories at the National level after the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014 is tremendously good for our state. Nevertheless, there are major doubts in the minds of the people residing in and around Imphal city; WHETHER WE HAVE AN EFFECTIVE SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM? As a concerned citizen born and brought up in Imphal, I basically feel that there are lots of challenges foran effective implementable solid waste management system for Imphal city which generates more than 100 metric tons of waste daily.
Over and above this, currently there has been a ban on the disposal of waste at the Lamdeng Solid Waste Management Plant. The Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) is presently collecting meager amount of waste only from the main bazar area and stocking it in their office. The IMC designated NGOs operatedin different wards have stop collecting household waste from different localities of Imphal area due to none availability of disposal site. Hence, there is complete menace as more and more wastes are piling up in the front of most household in the congested Imphal area. Furthermore, improper solid waste management will  lead to number of  health related problems like nose and throat infections, lung infection, breathing problems, infection, inflammation,  bacterial infection,  elevated mucus production,  altered immunity allergy  and asthma. Therefore, concerned related stakeholders should immediately make arrangement for taking corrective steps on priority basis to solve the impasses below it has blown out of proportion.  
Challenges of Solid Waste Management: Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016 notified by Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF& CC), GOI is applicable beyond municipal areas and have included urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian railways, airports, special economic zones, places of pilgrimage, religious and historical importance, and State and Central Government organisations in their ambit. The SWM Rules 2016 has strictly mandated compliance criteria for each stages of waste management viz., collection, segregation at source, transportation, processing and final disposal are followed strictly.
Collection: It is pertinent to have a systematic door to door solid waste collection from the different areas in Imphal. The present system of waste collection by IMC and IMC nominated NGOs in the various wards of Imphal is not very effective. There is need for increasing the frequencyof waste collection per week. For instance, in Aizawl city, there is very effective solid waste collection system. Household (door to door) collection of solid waste by the concerned authority under the Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Department (UD &PA), Government of Mizoram has given clear guideline for effective waste management. All stakeholders strictly follow the guidelines, out of 7 days a week; solid waste is collected 5 times in a week, 3 days for Dry Waste (Non-biodegradable) and 2 days for Wet Waste (Biodegradable). So, each household are required to maintain two dustbins for collection of dry waste and wet waste separately. For doing all these, each household pay a meagre amount of Rs. 50/- per month to the local authority. I should say this is a complete example of an effective system for collection of solid waste. I am not drawing a comparison but citing a clear example where we can learn and replicate in our state. Hence, this suggests there is need for further improvement in the existing collection system of solid waste in Imphal.
Segregation at source:Till date to my knowledge there is no report of segregating the household waste at source in Imphal.  This is one of the major challenges where the concerned authority should take appropriate measures for segregation of waste at source. It is noteworthy to remember that the SWM Rules 2016 have mandated the source segregation of waste in order to channelise the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle. Waste generators should now have to now segregate waste into three streams- Biodegradables, Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, Wood, etc.) and Domestic Hazardous waste (diapers, napkins, mosquito repellants, cleaning agents etc.) before handing it over to the collector. Institutional generators, market associations, event organisers and hotels and restaurants have been directly made responsible for segregation and sorting the waste and manage in partnership with local bodies. In case of an event, or gathering of more than 100 persons at any licensed/ unlicensed place, the organiser will have to ensure segregation of waste at source and handing over of segregated waste to waste collector or agency, as specified by the local authority. Waste processing and treatment:The bio-degradable waste should be processed, treated and disposed of through composting or bio-methanation within the premises as far as possible and the residual waste shall be given to the waste collectors or agency as directed by the local authority (SMW, 2016). The developers of Special Economic Zone, industrial estate, industrial park to earmark at least 5 per cent of the total area of the plot or minimum 5 plots/ sheds for recovery and recycling facility.
In conclusion, there is need for a drastic change in how the waste management systems will work in Manipur. Firm implementable measures should be adoptedfor a decentralised mechanism of solid waste management. However, it would be challenging task to see how segregation at source shall work on the ground. It has clearly indicated that segregation at source is of prime importance for effective solid waste management. It is extremely important to properly handle solid waste generated from the Imphal area by segregation at the source. It is also necessary to treat biodegradable waste by suitable methods like composting and vermi-composting. For the success of solid waste management in Manipur, people awareness in exceptionally obligatory. Hence, a massive awareness campaign in association with communities, NGOs, local clubs, students and other stakeholders needs toundertake actions to push for better implementation of the solid waste management in Imphal. There is also need for focusing on making solid waste management a people’s movement by taking the issues, concerns and management of solid waste to citizens and grass-roots.Finally, suitable strategy and actions plans should be targeted for addressing some of these challenges then it would definitely lead to success of an effective solid waste management in Imphal city.

(The author is currently working as Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Pachhunga University College, Aizawl-796001, Mizoram. He can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Huirem Naresh

Huirem Naresh, a resident of Keishamthong Elangbam has been with Imphal Times since its start, 2013. He handles mostly Press release and announcement related news. Naresh is also a social worker. He can be emailed at [email protected]

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