Smaller indian cities better at managing waste than larger ones; East Delhi, South Delhi and Gurugram worst

New Delhi: Some of India’s smallest cities, such as Vengurla and Panchgani in Maharashtra, and mid-level cities, such as Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, are more efficient in managing waste compared to similarly populated or larger cities, according to a recently released report on 20 cities across 10 states.

Parts of the National Capital Region — East Delhi, South Delhi and Gurugram — were among the worst, according to the report released on 7 June, 2018, by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an advocacy.

A ragpicker smiles as she collects recyclables at a dump yard in New Delhi. Reuters

A ragpicker smiles as she collects recyclables at a dump yard in New Delhi. Reuters

Among cities with a million people or more, Indore and Mysuru were the best performers. These cities are part of a forum called ‘Forum of Cities that Segregate’, launched by CSE to work with cities to promote and implement source-segregation and decentralised model of waste management.

More than 90 percent of India does not have a proper waste disposal system, IndiaSpend reported on 12 May, 2017. Waste management is a big problem in urban India as it generates 62 million tonne of solid waste annually, The Financial Express reported on 2 August, 2016. That is the equivalent of 6.2 million truckloads (at 10 tonnes per truck)–or nearly 17,000 truckloads per day.

Only 75-80 percent of waste generated in Indian cities is collected by municipal bodies, according to this 2016 environment ministry note. Only 24 percent of 143,000 tonne per day (TPD) of solid waste generated nationwide is processed, The Times Of India reported on 11 March, 2018.

To assess the performance, cities were grouped into three different categories — small (less than 100,000 million population), mid-size (100,000 to 1 million population) and million-plus.

For 2017-18, the cities were scored on their performance on different parameters, including segregation at source, collection, transportation, waste processing, adoption of decentralised systems, the inclusion of the informal sector and the enforcement of solid waste management by-laws and plastic waste management rules.

Better transportation but less processing

Most of the forum cities, as we mentioned, have efficient collection and transportation systems, the report said. But only a few cities have worked to ensure minimum disposal in landfills and maximum resource utilisation.

Only four of the 20 forum cities assessed segregate more than 90 percent of their garbage: Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Panchgani and Vengurla in Maharashtra, and Alappuzha in Kerala.

South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), Patna, Gaya, Imphal and Gurugram fail to segregate less than 33 percent of their waste. Six forum cities–Indore, Mysuru, Alappuzha, Panchgani, Balaghat and Vengurla – process more than 90 percent of waste. Four forum process more than have 90 percent: Panchgani, Vengurla, Indore and Alappuzha.

SDMC and EDMC process 33-75 percent of wet and dry waste. Gurugram processes less than 33% of the wet and dry waste it generates in a year. In larger regions, such as NCR, unprocessed waste piling up in landfills is polluting underground water, The Times of India reported on 9 June, 2018.

Cities’ Score On The Basis Of Disposal Percentage
Disposal Percentage Cities
>75 percent Patna, Gaya, Gurugram
50 -75 percent Bengaluru, Imphal, Bhopal, Muzaffarpur
33-50 percent SDMC, EDMC, Vaijapur, Greater Hyderabad
10-33 percent Mysuru, Balaghat, Bobbili, Gangtok, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore
<10 percent Panchgani, Vengurla, Alappuzha

Source: Centre For Science And Environment

A majority of the cities in Survekshan 2018, an annual survey by the central government on city cleanliness, are ‘visibly’ clean but many do not have appropriate systems for processing and disposal of waste.  They continue to collect waste and dump it in under-functional processing sites, landfills or dump sites, said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.

Cities must shift focus towards creating end-to-end systems to support segregation with effective processing and disposal mechanisms. Only then will ranking systems work in changing the solid waste management scenario in the country, added Bhushan.

Smaller cities adopting aspirational ways of managing waste

Smaller cities are putting more effort in managing their waste, the report said.

Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha have invested in creating decentralised systems for waste management. Some of the cities are also promoting decentralised processing at the household level.


Some forum cities such as Panchgani, Vengurla and Alappuzha have created systems to adopt a zero landfill model. Vengurla has no dump site or landfill.

“It is clear in our assessment that smaller cities have been more successful in implementing source-segregation compared to bigger cities,” said Swati Singh Sambyal, programme manager, waste management unit, CSE. “They have also been innovative in their approach and hence have performed well.”

Enforcement of by-laws remains a challenge

Only a few forum cities have enacted by-laws as per the SWM Rules, 2016 — Indore, SDMC, EDMC, Muzaffarpur, Vengurla and Bobbili. The enforcement of the by-laws remains a major challenge. Only Indore and Vengurla have ensured some level of enforcement of the by-laws, the report said.

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Updated Date: Jun 18, 2018 13:18:43 IST