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Why Promotion of City Compost policy needs overhauling?

Why Promotion of City Compost policy needs overhauling?


  • GS 3 || Economy || Infrastructure || Drinking water & Sanitation

 Why in news?

  • The Swatch Bharat Mission had committed to ensuring that all organic waste produced in Indian cities is processed into making compost by October 2019.
  • However, it doesn’t seem likely, currently, not even 5 per cent of organic waste generated by cities is converted into compost.

What is compost?

  • Compost derived from biodegradable waste will ensure sustainable solid waste disposal by following waste to health mechanism.

What are the challenges in solid waste disposal?

  • Proper collection, separation, transportation and disposal of solid waste to some distant preferably out of sight is not made in India.
  • Processing and treating different streams of solid waste, and safe disposal of the residuals in scientific landfills, has received much less attention.
  • In recent times unscientific landfill practices have led to man-made disasters such as Deonar (Mumbai), Bellandur (Bangalore), and Ghazipur (Delhi).
  • The use of incinerator for disposal of mixed waste is a financially and environmentally expensive solutions, since toxic emissions looms large from this method.

 Policy on Promotion of City Compost

  • To meet the ambitious target, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers had announced a Policy on Promotion of City Compost in February 2016.
  • It aimed to promote city compost with punch line ‘Compost Banao, Compost Apnao’.
  • But the lack of an appropriate market and ineffective implementation didn’t give this much-needed practice the desired popularity.

 Potential for city compost

  • India currently produces close to 1.5 lakh tonnes of solid waste every day and its biodegradable fraction ranges between 30 per cent and 70 per cent for various Indian cities.
  • This means there is a huge potential for composting, the most natural form of processing wet waste.
  • Uncontrolled decomposition of organic waste in dumpsites also leads to emission of potent greenhouse gases.
  • So, it is imperative that necessary actions be taken to promote appropriate disposal mechanisms for solid waste

 Policy Paralysis

  • The policy on promotion of city compost was rolled out to facilitate its marketing through fixed MDA of Rs 1,500.
  • This subsidy was to reduce the selling price of compost for farmers.
  • It required agreements amongst municipal body, compost manufacturer and compost marketer, including fertiliser companies.
  • But, unlike the predictions that the new financial incentives will boost promotion and production of compost, it did not prove to be a game-changer.
  • The high manufacturing and selling cost of the compost, questionable product quality, no direct incentive/subsidy to farmers and lack of knowledge among other concerns, ensured city compost didn’t become a popular option for farmers.

 Other Bottlenecks

  • The money allocated for MDA subsidy in the last three years is so meager that it could not meet the requirement of even 2 per cent of the SBM’s target.
  • In addition, the process to claim MDA is so tedious that most manufacturers and fertiliser companies have not received any payment under it.
  • A firm producing chemical fertilizers and its dealers are unlikely to be enthusiastic about selling organic compost till there is a legal mandate. The current policy has subsidy, but no legal targets.
  • They are just “supposed to” co-market fertilisers with city compost in a way that there are 6-7 bags of urea and 1-2 bags of city compost.

 Way Forward

  • To create a demand for quality compost, it is necessary to ensure that robust waste management systems are developed in cities, with source-segregation and promotion of decentralized waste management at its heart.
  • We need a much more serious policy to scale up production and consumption of city compost.
  • It should support other factors such as by reforms in terms of fertilizer control order norms, stringent targets for fertilizer companies etc.

How compost will ensure proper solid waste management?

  • Compost is an organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment, it is a key ingredient in organic farming.
  • In this method compost is produced from biodegradable waste collected from the city, it provides an alternative to farmyard manure.
  • It is rich in microbial content that helps plants to take up soil nutrients.
  • It provides an opportunity to simultaneously clean up the cities and help improve agricultural productivity and quality of the soil.

What is the need for such compost?

  • Excessive and imbalanced use of chemical fertilisers has led to a severe deterioration in the quality of soil.
  • Only about 20 -50 per cent of the nitrogen in urea is absorbed by plants, remaining pollute surface water with nitrogen runoff.
  • Organic manure or compost plays a very important role as a supplement to chemical fertilisers in replenishing the nutrient-depleted soils.

What are the advantages of such compost?

  • The water holding capacity of the soil, which uses compost helps with drought-proofing.
  • It is rich in organic carbon, which is an essential element of integrated plant nutrient management, as it increases the productivity of other fertilisers.
  • Horticulture crops grown with compost have better flavour, size, colour and shelf-life.
  • It reduces input costs for farmers, since it is weed-free, makes soil porous, roots stronger and resistant to pests and decay.
  • Landfills would be cleaned up for production of this compost and the fields around them would be much more productive.

What are the challenges with the  availability of this compost?

  • The availability of this compost is purely based on proper delivery mechanisms, which is lagging in India.
  • Government Schemes made for composite have not worked well because of its administrative complexity
  • The high volume but low value nature of compost makes it not so attractive for fertiliser marketing companies promote its use.
  • Compost manufacturers feels harder to meet the quality specifications laid down by the Fertiliser Control Order (FCO).

 How the challenges can be addressed?

  • Government policies which safeguards the interest of fertilizer manufactures should be formulated.
  • The state agricultural departments can help to facilitate the use of city compost through their widespread extension networks.
  • Fertiliser companies need to make vigorous efforts to market city compost using their well-connected dealer channels.
  • Subsidies for the city compost based fertiliser will promote its use among farmers and it also promotes companies to co-market the compost.

 Mains  Question

  • Comment your views on Solid Waste Management in India.