Judicial Intervention generating optimism!

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding Solid Waste Management filed by Srinagar based Environmental Policy Group (EPG) was once against listed before the High Court on Sept 17th.
Judicial Intervention generating optimism!
Representational Pic

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding Solid Waste Management filed by Srinagar based Environmental Policy Group (EPG) was once against listed before the High Court on Sept 17th.

The High Court division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur while underscoring the fact that solid waste is a great threat to Jammu & Kashmir's environment, in its fresh order said that J&K has a limited land availability and it was necessary to manage the solid waste on top priority. The order reads as :  

"Given the fact that case is concerned with Solid Waste Management in this mountainous state with limited land available for creation of landfill sites, it is essential that the issues with regard to solid waste are addressed on immediate priority "  

The order further reads : "Solid Waste Management today is a scientific concept and modern technology is available within the country which would enable addressing the problem before it reaches unimaginable positions. In-fact solid waste is being used even for fuel and energy generation apart from other uses " 

Waste Management in mountainous regions    

Management of solid and even liquid waste has always been a challenge in mountainous regions. The main reason is paucity of land for creating landfill sites. Earlier this year I wrote a piece titled " No land for landfilling " (GK , March 30th 2018). Through this article i tried to shake the conscience of authorities.  From last several years, I have been trying to make authorities understand that J&K being a mountainous state has limited scope for creating more and more garbage dumping sites. We even have very limited land for recreation as there are less Green Spaces available in Srinagar city due to massive urbanization. High Court had to intervene into this issue as well.  Our agriculture land holding as per 2010 Agriculture census was 0.62 hectares while as  average farmer in other Indian states owes 1.15 hectares (22 kanals). Some agri economists have even contested 2010 agri census , saying average landholding in 2011 was less than 0.62 hectares in J&K. Officials from agriculture and revenue departments say that agricultural land holding in J&K has drastically come down during last 8 years & now an average farmer in  Kashmir valley especially owes mere 3 to 4 kanals of land. The main reason for this downfall is conversion of agricultural land into residential colonies, highways and shopping malls. In these circumstances Government won't be in a position to acquire land for new landfill sites especially in  Kashmir valley. Thus High Court order in this direction is appreciable as court has highlighted the challenges of waste management in this mountainous state of Jammu & Kashmir.       

Conclusion 

The population density in Kashmir valley during 2011 census was 124 persons / Sq Km, with an annual growth of around 29 % to this. As on date the population density in Kashmir valley would be much higher than 124 persons / Sq Km. In this scenario it is clear that in addition of having very meager land availability, our population density is also growing @ 29 % annually. When the population grows, the accumulation of solid waste also grows and its disposal becomes a challenge. Due to less scientific landfilling site, we can see trash and solid waste being dumped in open plots, water bodies and even on road sides in Srinagar city. This practice is followed in our towns like Baramulla, Sopore , Kupwara, Chadoora , Pulwama , Kulgam , Anantnag  etc. River Jehlum , Dal Lake , Doodh Ganga , Wullar lake , Vishav nallah, Lidder nallah etc are being used as garbage dump sites. As High Court in its recent order has mentioned that waste management is a scientific concept and modern technology like converting waste to energy / fuel is available. In this regard I would suggest Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) that they must work on converting waste into energy by creating Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) at their landfill site. This will reduce the volume of waste at Achan as well. The  RDF can be used locally in cement kilns as is done in other states. In-fact SMC had taken some initiative last year but it was again send to deep freezer.   For treatment of organic waste, authorities must pass orders that all the households having more than ½ kanal of land near their house must dispose off their kitchen / biodegradable waste by creating small compost unit in the kitchen garden. The compost can be used in the kitchen garden once it gets ready. This activity will also reduce the load on landfill sites. Govt has to create awareness about it & infact incentivize this whole process. 

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