Swachh Bharat Mission Second phase gets nod

GS Paper II

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

Mains: Steps required making Swachh Bharat Abhiyan successful

What’s the News?

The Centre will begin implementing the second phase of its Swachh Bharat mission in rural areas from April, focusing on solid and liquid waste management and the sustainability of the abolition of open defecation.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:

  • Government launched it on 2nd It aims to make available basic sanitation facilities to all Indians by 2019. It has two sub-missions i.e. Swachh Bharat (Gramin) for rural India and Swachh Bharat (Urban) for 4,041 towns.

Second phase: ODF Plus programme

  • The first phase of the scheme, carried out between 2014 and 2019, focussed on the goal of abolishing open defecation by ensuring that all households had access to a toilet and used it.
  • More than 10 crore toilets were constructed under the scheme and rural areas in all States had declared themselves open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019.
  • The phase-2 of the mission will be implemented in a mission mode with a total estimated budgeted financial implication of 52 thousand 497 crore rupees.
  • Funding norms for Solid and Liquid Waste Management have been rationalised and changed to per capita basis in place of number of households.
  • The program will work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet.
  • The ODF Plus programme will also converge with MGNREGA, especially for grey water management and will also complement the newly launched Jal Jeevan Mission.

Challenges:           

Rural areas

  • In the rural areas, the major challenge was to change the mindset of the populace so that they would start using household toilets rather than defecate in open areas.
  • As majority of the households did not have toilets in their homes, the main component of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) was to construct household latrines and to focus on information, education and communication (IEC) activities.
  • The need for a dedicated sewerage network is less in rural areas as the toilets are connected with in-house soak pits.
  • Domestic waste in rural areas is also managed in a much better manner as it is segregated at the household level and a majority of it is used in the fields.
  • Thus, improving the cleanliness level in a rural area is much less complex than in an urban set up.

Urban areas

  • An urban area faces two major challenges — disposal of solid waste and sewerage/liquid waste. Disposal of solid waste has three key components.
  • First, waste collection, then transfer of the waste, and lastly, proper disposal at the landfill site.
  • Disposal of solid waste is primarily the responsibility of municipalities. However, these municipalities are not equipped with the manpower, financial resources and technology for the task.
  • Most of them are dependent upon the state governments for resources. These municipalities do not have sufficient human resources in terms of engineers or sanitation staff to manage the waste.
  • Landfill site management is very poor due to lack of technical know-how.
  • The second challenge is to manage sewerage in urban areas. Merely constructing toilets cannot solve the problem as these areas require proper sewerage network.
  • The soak pit system that works in rural areas cannot work in urban areas due to a space crunch and increasing population density.
  • The job of laying the sewerage network is again distributed between the state’s public health engineering department and the municipalities.

Problems in Strategy:

  • The main focus of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) is on the construction of individual household toilets, community toilets, public urinals and IEC activities.
  • The funds earmarked for solid waste management are minimal. Similarly, there is limited provision of funds for laying the sewerage networks.
  • The strategy used for Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) will not yield results in the urban mission.

Steps needed:

  • Rural housing and water supply are key to bringing toilet access to all.
  • There is a need for revamping the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) wherein the focus is on solid waste and sewer management.
  • The ministry must ask the state governments to assess their capabilities in waste handling. Recurring funds must be provided for collection of waste and its disposal.
  • A window may be given to municipalities for upgrading their capabilities to augment their revenue collection. Separate funds must be given for the development of landfill sites.
  • Best possible practices for waste collection across key cities must be studied and emulated.

Conclusion:

  • The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission depends not only on changing the mindset, but, also on changing in the way waste is disposed of by the municipalities and the state governments.
  • Sustained work to eliminate black spots in coverage and a massive urban programme are critical to ending open defecation and universalising toilet access.

Government takes steps to end single-use plastic by May 1

GS Paper III

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims: Pre-litter and Post-litter Plastic

Mains: Alternatives to single-use plastics

What’s the News?

The Environment department and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board have asked municipal corporations across the State to give incentives to establishments, prepare squads similar to those in Mumbai to confiscate plastic, and to hold review meetings every month.

Background:

  • The Maharashtra government had in March 2018 issued a notification banning manufacture, sale and use of single-use plastic bags.
  • It also banned an array of plastic products including cutlery, straws and containers. The ban imposes a penalty between ₹5,000 and ₹25,000 for those violating the rules.
  • Municipal corporations started drives to confiscate banned plastic and the MPCB conducted drives to ensure manufacturing units were shut down.

Measures planned by MPCB:

  • Offices, municipal councils, gram panchayats claims will be incentivized with prizes and certificates. Competitions will be held for these prizes through the local body.
  • MPCB is also encouraging municipal corporations to set up team of inspectors along the lines of BMC’s blue squads for confiscating banned plastic.
  • Students will be involved in the drive and various competitions will be held at school, college level to sensitise them.

Two stages of plastic: Pre-litter and Post-litter

  • Pre-litter means counselling the consumer about avoiding a lifestyle that stresses on largescale plastic consumption, especially multi-layered plastic.
  • It is the responsibility of both producers and consumers to avoid products that use non-recyclable plastic.
  • If citizens can achieve that level of lifestyle changes, it could take care of a large part of the problem. We cannot say at this stage if people can or cannot do this, it depends on factors.
  • Post-litter means when plastic hits the streets.

Solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics:

  • Substitute:

Some examples of upstream innovations are bioplastics made from algae, waste agricultural and food residues, using bacteria or mushrooms as micro-converters. Some bioplastics like PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) are soil and marine-safe — that is, they safely degrade in the environment within weeks or months, leaving no harmful residues.

Bagasse

Compostable, eco-friendly bagasse is great for replacing plastic when you need disposable plates, cups, or take-out boxes. Bagasse – the pulp left over when juice is extracted from sugarcane or beets – is used for a variety of purposes including as a biofuel.

It can also be pressed into a cardboard-like material used to make waterproof food containers, which is a great use for manufacturing waste that would otherwise be thrown away. And because it’s made from plants it will biodegrade easily in a home or industrial compost pile. 

Bioplastics

Bioplastics are biodegradable or compostable plastics made from natural substances instead of petrolem. PLA or CPLA are made from corn instead of petroleum while taterware is a similar material made from potato starch.

Stone paper and plastic

Paper can be made, not only from trees, but from stones as well. The paper is made out of calcium carbonate and is printable, recyclable and water-proof. It can be used to make FDA certified food cartons and can replace plastic in supermarket bags, takeout food cartons and zip lock bags.

Mushroom based material

Plastic packaging can be replaced with packaging made from mycelium, a mushroom root. The fibers in the mushroom bind agricultural waste into an alternative kind of foam. Agricultural waste products such as rice hulls, cotton hulls or wheat chaff are placed in a mold and then injected with mushroom spawn. About a week later the mushroom root has completed its growth using the agricultural waste as an energy source. The final product looks like foam and acts like foam without being as harmful for the environment as foam. It is organic, bio-degradable and can be used as compost or mulch. Some companies are starting to use this product instead of Styrofoam, which makes for a much healthier and sustainable package.

Milk plastic 

Milk plastic is plastic made out of milk. Or rather casein, the protein found in milk. It actually has been used to make plastic for over a century, but newer technology made more sturdy long-lasting petrochemical plastic. Now milk plastic is making a comeback.

Companies have developed technology that combine the casein with clay and a reactive molecule, which makes the plastic much sturdier. The packaging is also easy to break down, isn’t harmful toward the environment and, if you wanted to, you could even eat it!

  • Elimination of plastic packaging:

A great example is the emergence of water dispensers and ‘water ATMs’ around the country. Thanks to new filtration technologies, Internet of Things (IoT) and other advancements, Indian entrepreneurs have created solutions that can replace packaged plastic bottled water in most locations.

  • Reusability:

Elimination alone can reduce millions of tonnes of plastic waste. Where packaging cannot be eliminated, the next best option is reusability. Many of us will remember drinking soft drinks from glass bottles that were returned to the shopkeeper. These returnable glass bottles were replaced to a large extent by plastic because of convenience. GoI should provide incentives to bring them back and help reduce plastic waste even more.

  • Recovering & Sorting the Waste:

Where single-use plastic cannot be avoided, a plethora of tech nologies can help recover and sort the waste. Examples are smart bins, sorting machines, reverse vending machines and smart packaging technologies that make it easier to separate different materials.

Once sorted, there are many options to recover value from waste plastics, ranging from chemical recycling that produces virgin quality polymers, to ‘waste-to-energy’ solutions that produce fuels. Apart from that, waste plastics can also be converted into clothes, shoes, furniture, building materials and even roads.

Conclusion:

  • There are hundreds of solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics that are ready now, or in the pipeline. Many have been developed by startups led by environmentally focused entrepreneurs — ecopreneurs.
  • Some are being incubated in large progressive companies. All of them will need investments of time, effort and money to be scaled up. This requires visionary leadership in corporations, patient capital from investors, and collaborative efforts between competitors within industries.
  • Since plastic is made from crude oil, reducing India’s dependence on the material will help reduce its import bill.
  • Government can promote the efforts of homegrown entrepreneurs, find a use for waste agricultural materials and become a world leader in sustainable technologies.