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Explained: Meerut waste management challenge

The city of Meerut is currently facing a formidable waste management challenge that has caught the attention of authorities

By Ground report
New Update
Explained: Meerut waste management challenge

Meerut is currently facing a formidable waste management challenge that has caught the attention of authorities and environmentalists alike. The Meerut Municipal Corporation finds itself at the forefront of addressing this pressing issue, spurred by the legacy waste disposal concerns highlighted in response to Original Application No. 108 of 2023, particularly centred around the Lohia Nagar site.

Meerut generates 420 tonnes of biodegradable waste daily

Reports indicate that the city produces a substantial 420 tonnes of biodegradable waste each day, underscoring the sheer scale of waste management required. To handle this load, the Gawadi facility, equipped with a pit composting capacity of 1,500 tonnes per day, plays a crucial role. However, recent data suggests that this vital processing hub is inching towards saturation levels, signifying an impending crisis if left unaddressed.

The Meerut Municipal Corporation is currently grappling with a significant waste management challenge. This pressing issue was recently brought to light in the status report submitted by the corporation in response to Original Application No. 108 of 2023, particularly concerning legacy waste disposal at the Lohia Nagar site.

Meerut Cantt, Uttar Pradesh. Photo Credit: Flickr/India Water Portal

The MMC’s response to this impending crisis is the allocation of Rs 10 crores towards the enhancement of waste processing capabilities and the establishment of an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plant. This initiative is not merely a reaction to the present circumstances but a proactive measure anticipating the future demands of a burgeoning population.

The proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management Plant is envisioned as a multifaceted solution capable of handling both biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste streams. Its establishment is crucial for maintaining environmental sustainability and safeguarding public health. As Meerut’s existing waste processing infrastructure approaches its limits, the urgency for such a facility becomes ever more apparent.

Meerut's garbage disposal struggles continue

Despite continuous efforts and new schemes by the Municipal Corporation, Meerut still grapples with disposing of its daily 700 to 750 metric tons of garbage effectively. While some progress was made in clearing the Gaondi dumping ground, the mounting garbage at Mangatapuram and Lohianagar dumping grounds poses ongoing challenges.

The growing population of Meerut means that existing landfills will not be sufficient. Talking about the entirety of Uttar Pradesh, landfill sites receive approximately 0 Metric Tons of Solid Waste every day. Uttar Pradesh generates 14710 Metric Tons of waste every day. They collect only about 14292 Metric Tons of this waste and treat just 5520 Metric Tons Per Day. They dump the collected waste together at the landfills, ironically. These landfills, largely unregulated, pose a hazard to surrounding areas of Meerut's Landfill Sites.

In 2022, The ‘Junk to Jugaad’ campaign, commended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, showcased the corporation’s creativity by repurposing scrap materials to beautify city parks and intersections. Items from the storeroom, old tires, and discarded drums were transformed into decorative elements. However, this initiative was limited to select locations and has since seen reduced focus following the initial commendation.

Demographic Label Value
Total Geographical Area 2522 sq.km
Population (2011 Census) 1,305,429
Literacy Rate 75.66
Population Density 1190 per sq.km
Sex Ratio 897 females on every 1000 males

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directs the Uttar Pradesh government to pay a fine of Rs 120Cr, according to the reports published on 15-Sep-22. The National Green Tribunal holds the state government accountable for discharging 55 million litres of untreated sewage into Gorakhpur water bodies every day.

Meerut faces complex waste challenges

Meerut confronts several formidable challenges in managing its waste effectively. One of the most pressing issues is the land and water pollution resulting from the uncontrolled disposal of solid waste. This not only poses serious environmental concerns but also leads to health hazards for the city’s residents. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of adequate technical know-how and resources, which are essential for the development and implementation of efficient waste management systems.

The city also grapples with the shortage of sweepers and collection bins, which contributes to the improper management of waste. This shortage hinders the systematic collection and segregation of waste, leading to its accumulation in public spaces. Moreover, the non-availability of sanitary landfills further complicates the issue, as the existing disposal methods are not environmentally sustainable and pose a threat to both public health and the environment.

Meerut City Junction Railway Station. Photo Credit: Ravi Dwivedi/Wikimedia Commons

Another significant challenge is the composition of the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream itself. A substantial portion of Meerut’s MSW consists of biodegradable and compostable food waste, followed by inert material and recyclable materials such as polythene, plastic, cardboard, and paper. The city lacks a robust mechanism to manage this waste, which could otherwise be converted into valuable resources through composting and recycling.

Meerut’s Waste Management Solutions

To address these challenges, the Meerut Municipal Corporation must focus on enhancing public engagement and education on waste management practices. The implementation of policies centered around the three Rs—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle—is crucial, but their success largely depends on the active involvement and cooperation of the local community. By fostering a culture of environmental responsibility among its citizens, Meerut can take significant strides towards overcoming its waste management challenges.

The Municipal Corporation of Meerut has taken proactive steps to address the waste problem. Initiatives include contracts with companies for the sale of Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) from waste, which has helped clear significant amounts of RDF from the Gaondi plant. Additionally, the ‘Junk to Jugaad’ campaign has transformed scrap materials into urban beautification projects, although its impact remains limited to certain areas1.

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