Waste Management In Rural Areas Is Sadly Non-Existent

Indiscriminate Use Of Water Shall Lead To Alarming Consequences

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Waste Management In Rural Areas Is Sadly Non-Existent

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

W.H. Auden

The overuse of local natural resources has, for the last two decades in rural village settings, contributed to adverse environmental impacts like pollution, resource depletion, energy consumption, and waste. This has as much to do with changing lifestyles and population growth in villages as with failed policies and neglect at the state level.

The consumption of processed foods and packaged foods is also rising in villages. As a result, single-use plastic bags, plastics, polystyrene, polythene and other non-biodegradable materials find their way into the otherwise pristine streams and lakes.

No Plans For Waste Management

During the past two decades, an unprecedented increase in the amount of solid waste and liquid waste was concomitant with the developing living patterns in villages. However, neither the government has announced any plans for waste management in villages nor are people ready to rise to the occasion. This negligence is unforgivable as it endangers the air, water, soil now and for future generations.

The streams, flowing through the agricultural landscapes of villages, which were once good and considered appropriate sources of drinking water, now are highly contaminated. The water of these streams nowadays is not even fit for irrigation, let alone for drinking as the solid waste generated by households is being dumped indiscriminately into water bodies.

Many Laws, Poor Implementation

It is to be noted that the successive elected central governments have passed several laws to regulate the management of solid and liquid waste in India. These laws govern the management of solid and liquid waste generated by households and apartments, commercial establishments, industries, and institutions. For instance, under the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution act 1974, it is prohibited to pollute water bodies through wastewater or solid waste generated from households, industries or any other institution. Its motive is to prevent, control and abatement of water pollution and the maintenance of water.

With an objective to dispose of waste properly without any impact on the ecology of villages, the solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) program has been launched by the government. The program is supposed to set up a system for the scientific disposal of waste in such a way that it has a tangible impact on the population. The states have the duty to identify suitable technologies or methods to manage the liquid and solid waste generated from villages.

The funds allocated for waste management through Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (G) remain unspent. As per SBM (G) guidelines, every state should have at least one SLWM consultant at the state level and one District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) for every district to guide preparation for SLWM projects. However, the Department of Rural Development, which controls the Mission Directorate of SBM(G) failed to appoint consultants at the state and district level, the report said.

Villages Turning Into Dumping Sites

In the absence of waste management facilities, the villages are turning into dumping sites. Worst of all, the waste is being dumped on the banks of water bodies. Similarly, in Ramhuma village of the same district heaps of garbage could be sighted on the bank of the Karshan stream.

The Jal Shakti department is supplying water from a stream without any treatment to Sangrama village in district Budgam. The stream carries all the liquid and solid waste of the villages it passes through. The spot where the pipeline is connected is the same place where waste is being dumped.

Recommendations For Untreated Wastewater

A few recommendations regarding how to manage the untreated wastewater or liquid waste:

* Government should encourage the construction of soak pits (a covered up chamber with perforated walls that helps percolate the treated wastewater into the ground) in villages.

* Modern sewage treatment plants or technology like Waste Stabilization Pond (WSP), Duck Based wastewater treatment, Phyto roid technology and Anaerobic decentralized wastewater treatment needs to be introduced in the villages as per the feasibility and need.

* Government should enforce plastic related laws strictly.

* The government should constitute surveillance squads that can keep a check on illegal wastewater outlets and initiate action against violators disposing of solid and liquid waste into the water bodies.

If we fail to preserve the water bodies from several threats we as a society stand doomed.

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