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- National Mission for Green India
Spice of the Month
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Comment your views on Solid Waste Management in India.