Editorial: Strive from 2020 for a gemütlich environment ahead

Ministry of Agriculture to set up laboratories to test quality of compost produced by local authorities or their authorized agencies

Sanjaya K. Mishra

Editorial Published on 25th December 2019

Year 2019 is quickly running out. The world is ecstatic to welcome the New Year 2020. Looking back, it was an encouraging year. India became one of the first countries in the world to develop and launch a comprehensive Cooling Action Plan, India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched to tackle the problem of air pollution. NCAP targets 20 to 30% reductioIMG_20191226_013858n of PM10 and PM2.5 concentration by 2024, compared to 2017. 

Water Talk by National Water Mission, Green Good Deeds Campaign, the fight against single-use plastic, increase in tiger population addition in forest cover, and the release of White Paper on National Aviation Policy, to address major environmental challenges of the Indian aviation industry – are incredible. The National Green Tribunal’s Order dated 30th April 2019 pertaining to sewage disposal standards was a remarkable one. Jal Jeevan Mission was launched to ensure piped water supply to every household “Har Ghar Jal”. The formation of the new ministry, the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) was a significant move. The Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the time-bound mission for water conservation to enhance water security, especially in the water-stressed districts, created a huge impact across the nation. It has delivered over 5 Lakh local water conservation infrastructure in 256 districts. An estimated 370 Lakh people participated in the mission making it a people’s movement. About 123 million saplings were planted as afforestation intervention through this mission. 

However, as the river water management, and clean up deals with the treatment of water pollution and wastewater management, a part of the Pollution Control Board could further be considered to be included in the MoJS. The format could be followed in the state as well, where the groundwater regulatory body and water pollution control body could be merged. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change may focus on emission control, air quality, soil quality-related subjects, alongside the environmental and forest clearances. Solid wastes, hazardous wastes, plastic wastes, e-wastes, battery wastes, bio-medical wastes, and construction and demolition (C&D) wastes are going to be major challenges in the forthcoming years. It has been observed by the National Green Tribunal and even the Supreme Court that the efficiency of municipal bodies have remained appalling in the solid waste, plastic waste, and C&D waste fronts. The structure of SPCBs can handle the subject. 

Coming back to 2019, Activism was also phenomenal. From Delhi air pollution to Mumbai Aarey, to PLPA in Haryana and Talabira in Odisha. Also, there were numerous exemplary works in the field of waste management. Especially, some RWAs working towards zero waste and fight against Single-Use Plastic. The year 2020 will be another crucial year for the environment. The deadline to leapfrog from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms by 1stApril 2020. This has created tremendous changes in the automotive market. India has embraced for faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing, with a goal to 30% electric vehicles by 2030. Many new job openings would come out for wastewater professionals to meet the 31st March 2020 deadline given by the NGT.

As time is running out, to attain a better environment, to restore forest, and nature so that people and wildlife can thrive. As it may take time to turn the ship around, we need to start now. Everybody – individuals, citizens, institutions, academicians, governments, judiciary, businesses, activists, NGOs, and media – together, we can step up in 2020 and take urgent action to protect and restore nature, before it’s too late.

 

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Editorial: Who will ensure Quality of Compost from Garbage?

Ministry of Agriculture to set up laboratories to test quality of compost produced by local authorities or their authorized agencies

Sanjaya K. Mishra

Editorial Published on 18th December 2019

Composting as defined in Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 vide S.O. 1357(E) the 8th April 2016, means a controlled process involving the microbial decomposition of organic matter. With growing awareness and compliance with rule 4, many waste generators, Residential Welfare Associations (RWAs), Group Housing Societies, Malls, Hotels, Hospitals, Office Complexes; are now making compost in their premises. Some have adopted garbage converters, others generate compost by aerobic composting or vermicomposting. Some institutions, as required for those with more than 5,000 SQM area, also converting biodegradable waste into compost. At the same time, with growing activism and increasing interruption of Courts and Tribunals, the Municipal Bodies are also working proactively towards solid waste management. Thus, a huge quantity of compost is being generated.

According to the SWM Rules 2016, the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers shall provide market development assistance on city compost, and ensure promotion of co-marketing of compost with chemical fertilizers in the ratio of 3 to 4 bags: 6 to 7 bags by the fertilizer companies to the extent compost is made available for marketing to the companies. Further, the SWM Rules specifies that the Ministry of Agriculture through appropriate mechanisms shall propagate utilization of compost on farmland. It has also given the responsibility to set up laboratories to test the quality of compost produced by local authorities or their authorized agencies. Download SWM Rule 2016 (English)

The above responsibilities by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers and the Ministry of Agriculture are not as visible as the enthusiasm of RWAs to make compost out of bio-degradable waste. Compost quality is essential to be analyzed as specified in the Schedule-II of SWM Rules, 2016. And it has a significant meaning as according to the “Fact Sheet on Plastic Waste in India, 2018”, The Energy Research Institute (TERI), plastic contributes to 8% of the total solid waste. A significant amount of toxic heavy metals like copper, zinc, lead, and cadmium recovered from plastic wastes from seashores have an adverse effect on the coastal ecosystems. Lead and Cadmium pigments, commonly used in most of the plastics as additives are hazardous in nature and are known to leach out. And this is only one source of possible contamination in the compost. This clearly indicates there is a substantial possibility of contamination in compost. At the moment, the compost is being utilized in potted plants, terrace gardens, lawns, gardens, greenbelts. There is a risk of using unknown quality of compost in potted plants. Further, contaminations and pollutants in compost may also degrade the soil and groundwater quality in the long term. Therefore, it is high time to establish laboratories and disseminate the information. It is also important for the EIA Consultants and the Compliance Professionals to address the subject as per legal provisions. Heaps of compost are being generated and over the years the quantity will increase. However, it is also time to review the annual reports prepared by the Local Bodies to obtain facts and figures. Proper utilization through the appropriate market, as delineated in the SWM Rule could lead to a win-win-win situation for the waste generator to farmers to government. There should not be any chance left to pile up compost in place of raw garbage.

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2019-10-29-.paytm QR Code

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