India needs strong commitment to manage its waste: Experts
Singapore, May 25 : India needs to have a strong commitment on waste management with concerted efforts from all stakeholders including policy-makers, bureaucracy and the people, experts here said.
The call came during the launch of a book which details the challenges of managing waste including dead mobile phones, disposed plastic bottles and other throw outs across India.
“Recycling of this waste is happening on an ad hoc basis with expired phones melted to recoup minuscule metal and mineral items and disposed plastics bottles processed into other products.
“But a concerted effort is needed for a solution,” said Prof Robin Jeffrey, co-author of the book ‘Waste of A Nation: Social and Environmental Challenges for India’.
He said the country needs a people-driven solution, involving all main players – politicians, policy makers, bureaucrats, corporations, professionals and even the humblest garbage collectors.
Efforts by small companies processing disposed plastics into products such as window frames, in a way monetising the waste, said the Melbourne-based Jeffrey, a visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), a think tank of the National University of Singapore.
M Goutham Reddy, managing director and chief executive of Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd of Hyderabad, said waste management in India is in its infancy stage and a lot needs to be done.
“The primary problem is that there is no commitment,” pointed out Reddy, whose company provides a comprehensive waste management services.
“The commitment has to come from top down – politicians, bureaucrats, local governments and the public. Unless there is a commitment from people, the solution is never going to be realistic,” he said, at the panel discussion held during the book launch organised by ISAS yesterday.
“It is not going to be without a cost,” said Reddy, hoping the government would introduce more initiatives on waste management besides the ongoing Swacch Bharat campaign.
The book’s extensive research includes stories from landfills, open dumps and recycling sheds by Jeffrey and his co-author Assa Doron, an associate professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Anthropology at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University.
The book begins with a taxi ride to Seelampur, a highly-congested locality in northeast Delhi infamous for churning out e-waste in huge quantity.
Doron said the “immense volume” of thrown-away electronic gadgetry and the people – women and children, old and young – engaged in breaking it down and segregating material provoked nagging questions.
“We’ve got to do a book about garbage,” Doron, a prolific author with a series of publications to his name, said he had thought to himself.