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In the wake of an improper waste disposal system, with waste being dumped without sufficient treatment, an ASSOCHAM-PwC study revealed that an estimated 88 square kilometre (sq. km.) of precious land needs to be brought under waste disposal through land-filling by 2050.
The report, titled 'Waste Management in India: Shifting Gears' notes that the requirement will eventually render the land unfit for any other use for over half a century before it can be stabilised for other uses.
As per a previous estimate, by 2050, about 50 per cent of India's population will be living in urban areas, and the volume of waste generation will grow by five per cent per year.
Accordingly, the projected waste quantity for the years 2021, 2031 and 2050 are 101 million metric tonnes (MMT), 164 MMT, and 436 MMT per year, respectively.
The report noted that waste generation of Tier I cities with population ranging from 0.1 to five million in India has been estimated to be around 80 per cent of the country's total waste generation.
Highlighting the concerns about per capita waste generation rate, the study said presently it is about 300-400 gm/capita for medium cities and 400-600 gm/capita for large cities. This figure is projected to increase with the present trend of urbanisation and consumption patterns, the report notes.
On the need for proper waste treatment to generate environmental and monetary benefits, the study said poorly managed waste has direct implications to the urban environment, leading to air, water, and soil pollution, together with long-term health impacts, while it has indirect implications for our economy and growth prospects as well.
However, improper planning for waste management, complex institutional setup, constraints in capacity for waste management using modern techniques and best practices, and limited funds with urban local bodies are some of the reasons waste management in India has become an area of concern.
It also said though the private sector can play a critical and greater role in waste management in India, there are various issues on different fronts that have made it challenging to successfully implement projects - policy and regulatory, financing, project conceptualisation and structuring, technology and capacity.