Mumbai: State govt, other stakeholders deliberate on scientific solutions in virtual town hall

In a virtual public consultation organised on Thursday, environmentalists, members of civil society, a panel of experts, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and officials from the Maharashtra Environment and Climate Change Department came together to develop detailed recommendations to scientifically address the rapidly growing crisis of waste management across Maharashtra. The recommendations obtained during this virtual public consultation, will be implemented in Maharashtra to tackle the crisis of waste management in which has been annually reporting the highest quantity of waste among all states for the past five years,

During this virtual town hall on waste management organised by Climate Voices — a collective of three organisation in association with the Maharashtra Environment and Climate Change Department’s 'Majhi Vasundhara' initiative, the Maharashtra government said that while funds and detailed plans were in place, there was an urgent need for a strong administrative will to achieve highest waste management standards.

Presenting data of total waste generated across the state, Nandkumar Gurav, Regional Officer (Headquarters), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), informed that a total of 84 lakh tonnes of municipal solid waste was generated in 2019-20 while 22,945 tonnes was being generated across the state daily. Of the daily waste generated, 22,685 tonnes or 98.7% was being collected and 15,980 tonnes or 70% was being scientifically treated. He also claimed that the total figure for waste being scientifically treated has touched 80% in 2021.

The state also generated 4.4 tonnes of plastic waste of which 88 percent was collected while 61 percent was channelized for recycling and use, said Gurav adding that a total of 20 lakh tonnes of hazardous and electronic waste (e-waste) was generated in 2019-20, with 10 lakh tonnes for each.

The town hall was hosted by the nonprofit organisation - Waatavaran Foundation.

MPCB’s data for 2019-20 revealed that the total E-waste generated in Maharashtra (10 lakh tonnes per annum), less than 1% was either recycled or dismantled in 2019-20. Only 975.25 tonnes of E-waste was recycled while 11,015.49 tonnes was dismantled (yet to be recycled) in the formal sector.

Highlighting the issue of E-waste Gurav said :“We are in the process of bringing the informal sector in the ambit of the formal sector to enhance E-waste recycling. It is also a major recommendation from our end to be added to the State Climate Action Plan."

He added,"This is the latest available data on E-waste with us, and has been shared with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as well."

Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link warned that Maharashtra is the top producer of e-waste and at the moment 90 percent of e-waste was handled by the informal sector, which is illegal and no one has this data. “There is an urgent need for a policy that will ensure that the informal sector recycling e- waste is aligned and contributes to the value chain,” he said.

Manisha Mhaiskar, Principal Secretary, Maharashtra Environment and Climate Change Department, Govt of Maharashtra addressing the town hall said that engaging the community will be extremely crucial to manage all kinds of waste

successfully in the State. “The administration from the towns and cities should engage with the community. We have sufficient funds as well as plans and now all we need is will for implementation,” she said.

Mhaiskar also added that all the recommendations received in the town hall will be put together as a climate action agenda where recommendations will be incorporated and submitted before the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray on June 5 (World Environment Day).

Free Press Journal