The need to regulate the management of construction and demolition waste in India
The problem of illegal dumping of construction and demolition waste in India has been an issue of concern for a very long time. Such waste refers to the waste comprising of building materials, debris and rubble resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure. The dumping of such wastes put severe pressure on already scarce land spaces and reduces the lifespan of the landfills, thereby affecting the entire ecosystem. They are hazardous to the human beings as they contain several dangerous objects within themselves. The Government of India has been analyzing the feasibility of a well laid out debris management plan to deal with this issue.
The Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 were one of the most efficient steps taken by the Central Government to manage such bizarre form of waste in the nation. They are deemed to apply to every waste resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure of individual or organization or authority who generates construction and demolition waste such as building materials, debris, rubble.
They specifically provide for the duties of the waste generators who shall be responsible for the collection, segregation and other activities involved with the debris management. The Rules also laid that the waste generator shall keep the construction and demolition waste within the premise or get the waste deposited at collection centre so made by the local body or handover it to the authorised processing facilities of construction and demolition waste; and ensure that there is no littering or deposition of construction and demolition waste so as to prevent obstruction to the traffic or the public or drains. These rules also lay down the duties of the service providers, the local authority, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Central government.
According to an affidavit filed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in the case of, Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry v Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, around 8,600 metric tonnes of waste is generated in a day, but the municipal corporation’s capacity is to process only 3,000 metric tonnes of waste a day. Thus, the remaining 5,600 metric tonnes of waste was being dumped illegally. Such illegal disposition not only affects the humans and their health but also is a threat to the entire ecosystem.
In a recent Special Leave Petition before the Apex Court for seeking permission to carry on the construction which has been prohibited by an order of the Bombay High Court due to poor waste management plans, the Court has removed such ban as they were a lot of recurring losses to the contractors, the burden of financial loans to the developer and builders were at a hike and thus, the revival of the High Court order was urgently required.
The Court while removing the construction ban stated that any builder who wants to undertake construction, will be permitted to start it only after an undertaking of proper disposal of debris as part of Intimation of Disapproval (IOD) and submitting a bank guarantee of Rs. 5 lacs to Rs. 50 lakhs depending upon the size of the project and its mode of development, as a guarantee of proper waste disposal plans. The Court also noted that the order will remain in effect for six months after which Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will have to submit a fresh report to the Supreme Court.
Thus, the effectiveness of the order depends entirely on the Waste Management plans to be prepared by the contractors which is still an unanswerable question, to be decided with the passage of time.
Author: Anushka Arora (Research Associate, Gati Foundation)