Indian cities are failing miserably at garbage management

  • 1.43 lakh Metric Tonnes (MT) of garbage is generated in Indian cities every day.
  • 1.1 lakh MT of this is generally dumped in open landfills.
  • This is completely unprocessed and pollutes the surrounding land, air and groundwater.
About 1.43 lakh Metric Tonnes (MT) of garbage is generated in the Indian cities every day. However, only about 35,600 MT, which is a quarter of the total garbage generated, undergoes processing every day. The remaining 1.1 lakh MT is generally dumped in open landfills, which overflows and pollutes the surrounding land, air and groundwater.

Out of the 35 states, only eight process more than 50% of the garbage from the cities, including Delhi (at 55%), and no state has been able to process all 100% of its waste until now.
The state-wise data on the website of the Urban Affairs Ministry shows that some, like Arunachal Pradesh and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, don't process municipal garbage at all. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand are stuck at less than 10%.

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Chhattisgarh tops the list with 74%, followed by Telangana (67%), Sikkim (66%) and Goa (62%). These are the only four states that process more than 60% of their daily garbage.


On the plus side, 61,846, which is three-quarters of the 84,000 municipal wards in India, have been able to achieve 100% door-to-door waste collection. The Maharashtra Municipal Ward generates the most garbage daily at 22,570 MT, followed by Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat and Karnataka. However, the lack of proper disposal facilities nullifies the success.

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According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that is based in Delhi, the cities are now running out of lands to dump their waste on. Therefore, they have now switched to dumping it in the ‘backyards’ of smaller towns, suburbs and villages.

The CSE backs segregation at source, recycling and reusing against the centralised approach of landfills. A change in the behaviour of citizens and an approach of local waste management solutions are needed to make it to the ideal of ‘Clean India’, says CSE.
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