Tuesday, 25 January, 2022

Haphazard Disposal in Absence of SWM Rules

Waste management in complete disarray

Waste management in complete disarray
A worker is dumping garbage on a road, spreading stinky odour. The photo was taken from Khilgaon area in the capital on Friday. — SUN PHOTO

The country’s waste management mechanism has remained in disarray in the absence of rules for solid waste management (SWM), creating serious health and environmental consequences.

City corporations and municipalities are collecting the solid waste in whatever way they can and dumping it into rivers, canals, roads and residential areas as the SWM rules are not in place.

The SWM is a term that is used to refer to the process of collecting and treating solid waste. It also offers solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash.

Many city corporations and municipalities have set up their waste disposal sites on floodplains, banks of rivers and canals, roadsides and open spaces that are serving as a breeding ground for vectors of different diseases and producing methane.

They have also set up Secondary Transfer Stations (STSs) near water bodies, roads and residential areas, causing immense sufferings for the local residents from bad smell and toxic gases.

Besides, there is chaos over the collection of solid waste and taking fees from households, markets and other establishments due to the absence of guidelines from the authorities concerned.

Neighbouring country India has recently notified the new Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016.

 As per the rules, the landfill site shall be 100 metres away from a river, 200 metres from a pond, 200 metres from highways, habitations, public parks and water supply wells and 20 kms away from airports/airbase. Emission standards are completely amended and parametres included for dioxins, furans, reduced limits for particulate matters from 150 to 100 and now 50. Also, the compost standards have been amended to align with Fertiliser Control Order.

Experts said city corporations and municipalities across Bangladesh have no guidelines regarding the collection, transfer and disposal of solid waste.

There are also no definition of the solid waste and criteria for setting up the disposal sites and secondary transfer stations, they said.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) General Secretary Sharif Jamil said, “The rules for solid waste management were drafted many years ago. But those were not published yet due to the conflict between the Local Government Division (LGD) and the Department of Environment (DoE) over the question of the authority to do so. The important issue remains unresolved for lack of government’s commitment to people.”

He also said the government should formulate the rules considering the hazardous impacts of mismanagement of solid waste.  Sources say the LGD and DoE drafted a set of rules for SWM in 2007 that did not see the light at all.

The two city corporations of Dhaka -- Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) -- have set waste disposal sites on floodplains at Matuail and Aminbazar respectively while Gazipur City Corporation dumps waste on the bank of the Turag River at Baimail which is the major cause of water pollution.

Talking to the Daily Sun, DNCC Additional Chief Engineer Tariq Bin Yousuf said, “There should be criteria for selecting disposal sites and secondary transfer stations. We need guidelines on where we can set up the disposal sites and STSs and where not.”

 He also said, “We attended many meetings of the Department of Environment on the formulation of rules for solid waste management since 2007. But I don’t know whether the rules have been finalised yet and when the gazette will be published.”

Yousuf added that there was no directive about the participation and responsibility of the community in waste management.

DSCC Executive Engineer Md Sufi Ullah Siddik Bhuiyan echoed the DNCC engineer, saying the rules are now a crying need for every city corporation and municipality for the SWM.

Sreemangal municipality has set up a dumping yard in front of Sreemangal Govt College which is polluting the environment of the area.

Asked, municipality Mayor Md Mohsin Miah said the dumping of waste started long before his election as mayor. “There’re no rules for collection and disposal of solid waste for our municipalities. We’re badly in need of a set of rules for proper management of waste,” he said.

Talking to the Daily Sun, DoE Deputy Director (Waste and Chemicals Management) Dr Abdullah Al Mamun said the government has taken steps many times to finalise the rules but the process was delayed for legal complications. “Now, we’ve finalised the rules after a series of meetings with city corporations of Dhaka and getting vetting by law ministry. It’s now in the proofreading stage. It’ll be published in the form of gazette soon,” he also said.

However, the DoE officials have made similar comments many times since 2007 but the gazette has not been published yet.